Spring Artichoke Salad with Grapefruit and Mint

Raw Artichoke saladKitchen is finished! Well almost. A couple small finishing touches to go but we can at least move our stuff back in and the workers are all packed up and gone. However, it has been a ridiculously crazy week and I really haven’t had any time to fully test drive our (ok let’s be honest, my) new space. Good thing this week’s post takes no time at all to whip up and is a perfect spring salad made with raw artichokes.

Like asparagus, artichokes signal the arrival of spring, and this week I saw some really good looking artichokes in the store. Not the big round green ones, but elongated, deep purplish ones with tightly closed leaves. I was stoked for making something new, but what?

Over the winter I read Eating Rome: Living the Good Life in the Eternal City by Elizabeth Minchilli. It’s not a cookbook per se, more a collection of stories (taken from her blog) about daily life in Rome and its food culture. It’s a fun book, quick read with little stories about certain things like gelato, markets, pizza, and yes, a chapter devoted to artichokes. Rome is famous for its love and preparation of artichokes so I pulled out the book to see if I could get a good idea.

Of course there was a recipe for Carciofi alla Romana (braised artichokes) which looked awesome, but again, I just didn’t have time this week for it. I needed something simple. Luckily for me a raw artichoke salad was mentioned on the next page. That seemed quick enough and even here in Chicago we’re full into spring so it fits with the season. I just needed to figure out what I’d add to the artichokes.

As usual, my trusty and always close-by copy of The Flavor Bible gave some answers. Looking up artichokes, mint and grapefruit kind of jumped out at me, mostly because I knew I had both of those ingredients, but also because I thought they would add crisp and sharp flavor lines while also being light. It’s a very good combination with the artichokes! A simple finish with some shaved Parmigiano and olive oil and you’ve got an awesome spring salad. In her book, Elizabeth Minchilli says she could eat raw artichoke salads for lunch almost every day during artichoke season. I can see why and totally agree.

Artichoke Salad with Grapefruit and Mint (2-4 servings)

  • 2-3 artichokes, trimmed and cleaned
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 Tbs Fresh mint, minced
  • Parmigiano reggiano cheese, shaved
  • 1 grapefruit, sectioned and chopped
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil

Fill a large bowl with water and the juice of one of the lemons. Cut the other lemon in half.

Prep your artichokes. Peel back and snap off the outer leaves at the base. Keep peeling leaves off until you get to leaves which are about half yellow and half purple. Cut the top of the artichoke off about halfway down the leaves. With a paring knife, cut off the stem and trim the base. Rub with lemon juice and place in the bowl to keep the artichokes from turning a nasty shade of brown as they oxidize. Spread open the leaves a little so some of the water gets inside. Repeat with the other artichokes.

Using the paring knife cut and scoop out the furry choke from the middle of the bottom. You’ll have to work your way down through the opening in the leaves. The younger your artichokes, the smaller the choke. Another reason why spring is a good time for these.

Place the cleaned out choke back in the acidulated water (the lemon water) and repeat with the others.

Prep your mint, grapefruit, and cheese.

Take an artichoke out of the acidulated water and place on a cutting board top side down. Slice it thinly and squeeze some lemon juice on the slices. You can also place the slices back in the water while you slice the rest.

Put the sliced artichokes in a bowl and toss with the grapefruit and mint. Spoon onto plates, shave Parmigiano cheese on top, season with salt and pepper, drizzle with good olive oil.

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