They are a pain to clean, artichokes are buy they are a seasonal vegetable, an ancient one for Greeks and I love that fact that such an odd vegetable was discovered to be edible. Who actually took the time to peel off the petals, remove the choke and declare triumphantly that artichokes are edible and good eats?
When I was contemplating what dishes to prepare for my Cyclades Dinner I knew that artichokes would have to be included somewhere in the menu. Artichokes are produced on a large scale on the island of Tinos – that’s the one the ferry boat stops at just before Mykonos. This recipe is not a traditional recipe of the Cyclades but it is inspired by artichokes and I tried my best to highlight their flavour and complement them with a medley of vegetables and crispy garnish.
Artichokes are not hard to peel but tedious. They may take a while to clean but they are worth the effort. Don’t forget to store the cleaned artichokes in acidulated water so they don’t oxidize/turn brown. For this dish, I lightly poached them in a vegetable broth spiked with lemon juice. They cooked until just fork-tender, remaining firm.
I’ve complemented the artichokes with a medley of diced vegetables like onions, red peppers, carrots, zucchini and green peas Bold Kalamata olives and briny capers are added into the mix along with Greek extra- virgin olive oil, lemon juice and chopped fresh mint. Th proverbial cherry on the cake is the fried calamari that tops this salad, reminding you that the sea is always nearby.
Artichoke Salad With Fried Calamari (Σαλατα με Αγκιναρες & Καλαμαρακια Τηγανητα)
8 artichokes, peeled/cleaned and sliced in half (vertically)
2 medium onions, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup fresh (or thawed from frozen) peas
10 pitted Kalamata olives, sliced
2 zucchini, diced
1/4 finely chopped capers
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 – 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
1 or 2 pieces of fried calamari for each serving
- Place a large skillet on your stove-top and add about 3 inches of water and bring up to a boil over medium heat. Season the water with salt, some chopped onion, carrot and celery and lemon juice to taste. Once aboil, add your cleaned artichokes into the water and as soon as the water begins to boil, lower the heat to a simmer and poach the artichokes for 3 minutes or until just fork-tender. Remove them with a slotted spoon and place in an ice bath then strain. Reserve.
- In the meantime, add some olive oil into a skillet along with the onions, carrots, red peppers and sweat for 5-6 minutes. Add the peas to the skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes then add the diced zucchini and toss in and cook for another two minutes. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and remove from the heat and allow to cool.
- Just before you’re ready to serve your salad, add the olive oil and lemon juice into the vegetable mixture along with the sliced olives and chopped capers and mint. Toss well, taste again and adjust seasoning accordingly.
- Place about 3 artichokes on each place and top with the vegetable mixture and garnish with fried calamari and a mint leaf. Serve with a crisp glass of Paros Sillogi white.
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