Friday, May 29, 2009

Artichoke and prosciutto salad with rocket

Serves 4

This salad is perfectly light and fresh; the dressing is quite lemony and goes well with the saltiness of the prosciutto and Parmesan, and the acidity of the dressing stops the raw artichoke hearts from discolouring.

Try and get some young purple tinged artichokes if you can, trimmed and kept in acidulated water, then shave them on a mandolin straight into the dressing at the last minute: this isn't a salad that sits around for anyone. The true texture and flavour of raw artichokes is something I discovered while working in Mougins in the South of France a few years ago, and still to this day it's the sort of light first course I'm always looking for in restaurants.

3 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 2 lemons
4 large globe artichokes
100g thinly sliced prosciutto (air dried ham such as Parma)
25g wild rocket leaves
50g piece Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

First make the dressing so it is ready for the artichokes as soon as they are prepared. Put 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice and plenty of seasoning into a large bowl,whisk together well, then add the olive oil and whisk once more to bring together, then set aside.

To prepare the artichokes, cut off the top and the stalk, then trim away at the dark green outer leaves, until you've exposed the almost white flesh of the heart itself. Scoop out the bristles from the centre with a spoon and drop the artichoke hearts into a pan of acidulated water (water and the remaining lemon juice) to prevent them going brown.

Just before serving, arrange the slices of prosciutto over the base of 4 plates. Very thinly slice the artichoke hearts across, ideally using a mandolin, straight into the dressing and immediately toss them together to avoid any discolouration.

Scatter the dressed artichokes on top of the prosciutto and then loosely scatter over the rocket leaves. Thinly shave the Parmesan cheese over the top and serve straight away.