Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Artichoke and Strawberry Panzanella

Some kitchen tasks are more enjoyable than others. Nothing beats rolling fresh pasta dough, and I can't explain it, but pitting cherries is fun for me. Then, there are the kitchen things that I don't look forward to doing at all. Washing dishes takes first place in that category, and not far behind that is peeling shrimp. I've gotten a little faster at peeling and deveining in recent years, so it's not quite as dreaded now as it used to be. And, then, there are artichokes. Facing the task of prepping fresh artichokes feels like heading into battle. Those leaves are tough, and they have pointy spots and seem to fight back. You have to use some force to cut through those leaves and then to peel around the heart. When you finally get to removing the choke, you end up with fine, hair-like pieces all over your work surface. All the while, the artichoke is quickly turning brown even though you keep rubbing it with lemon before dropping it into a bowl of water with more lemon. I can't help but feel a bit defeated when after the battle, what remains of the artichoke to be eaten is tiny compared to the size it was when this all started. So, I've developed a coping mechanism for the stress of prepping artichokes. I remind myself how short their season is. I tell myself that locally grown artichokes weren't even available a few years ago, and we're lucky to have them now. I think of the cleaning process as a rare spring event that's necessary to endure in order to enjoy the flavor of fresh artichokes. Last, I find a great recipe that's going to make all that effort very worthwhile.

This panzanella was just such a recipe, and it's a vision of spring on the plate. It's is also from Girl in the Kitchen, and I was reminded of it when I pulled the book off the shelf for the Pistachio-Cilantro Butter. After convincing myself to approach the artichokes with a positive attitude and prevailing in the battle of their prep, the cleaned hearts were cut into eight pieces. They were cooked in a mixture of olive oil, stock, white wine, lemon juice, garlic, and salt. It was interesting that this cooking liquid became the dressing for the salad. After the artichokes became tender, after about 25 minutes, they were removed from the pan. Then, the cooking liquid was boiled and reduced to about one half cup. Meanwhile, bread cubes were toasted, and the strawberries that arrived in my CSA were washed and sliced. Basil should have been used in this salad, but I didn't have any basil growing yet that day so I used parsley instead. One last ingredient was preserved lemon, and the rind was julienned. The artichokes, bread cubes, strawberries, parsley, and preserved lemon were tossed with the cooled, reduced cooking liquid. That mixture was served over slices of fresh mozzarella.

The dressing was surprisingly flavorful, and the preserved lemon gave the salad a nice, bright punch. Sweet strawberries and fresh mozzarella were a great match with the crunchy toasted bread. And, what about those artichokes? This is the kind of dish that will make the artichoke battle easier to face each time.


29 comments:

  1. I would never have thought to pair strawberries with artichokes. This looks really delicious, and fits in with my search for new ways to eat artichokes now that they are in season for me. I would love for you to share this post on my Seasonal Eats Sheet blog roundup for May, <a href="http://delectablemusings.com/2012/05/seasonal-eats-sheet-may-2012.html>found here</a>, which highlights recipes that use seasonal ingredients in great recipes.

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  2. never paired strawberries with artichoke but sounds like something I would love to give a try!

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  3. What an original dish and interesting combination! Absolutely fabulous.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  4. Beautiful salad. I love the sweet and savoriness of it and it certainly looks like the work of prepping the artichoke is worth it.

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  5. Just reading this made me feel exotic - stunning salad :)

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

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  6. Love this combination, very different.......I like this book so far.

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  7. That is a winning looking salad. I have never paired strawberries and artichokes and preserved lemons but it's a flavour combination I would love to try xx

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  8. I am not really an artichoke fan, but what can I do, you paired it with strawberries...a combination I won't be able t resist. This looks fantastic.

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  9. such a great salad! creative idea pairing the artichoke with strawberries!

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  10. Artichokes and strawberries? Who would have ever thunk? Gotta try this to give my taste buds a real surprise. ;)

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  11. What a unique combination... Never paired these two together, I bet they taste divine...
    Beautiful!!

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  12. A very intriguing combination with artichokes and strawberries, it sounds lovely!

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  13. I wish I had these for breakfast today - yum!

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  14. I looked at this and said out loud, "Did she say strawberry and ARTICHOKE??"

    What a combo; I can't wait to try it.

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  15. Adore the unique and delicious combo of strawberries and artichokes.

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  16. Wow, this sounds wonderful!

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  17. I love artichokes Lisa and this salad look awesome!

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  18. Beautiful dish Lisa...so "springy", very nice combination of artichoke and strawberry :)
    Hope you are having a wonderful week!

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  19. Beautifully unusual Lisa. What a yummy combination. I'm sure that they complimented each other well.

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  20. A primary reason why I bake more than cook: prep work sucks. Good for you on prevailing over those artichokes. And this gorgeous salad looks like it was worth the effort!

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  21. I'm with you on washing dishes and peeling/deveining prawns! your dish looks delish and I'm sure worth the effort prepping the artichokes.

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  22. Beautiful panzanella. Love the way you cooked the artichokes and then used the marinade for the dressing. Strawberries and artichokes who would have thought. Workds for me. Congrats on the Top 9.

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  23. I love panzanella! I don't believe I've ever had strawberries and artichokes together but I'm certain that, if you made it, it must be delicious!

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  24. Such a unique recipe... a must-try!
    xo
    http://allykayler.blogspot.com

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  25. how...unexpected! this actually sounds really lovely to me, lisa--nice share!

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  26. Like you, the eating of an artichoke makes the prep battle worth it. And this salad is fabulous - I love the flavors and love the artichokes with strawberries idea...with the croutons. Beautiful!

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  27. That is funny - I find breaking down artichokes to be oddly meditative. But I'm with you on the dishes. The strawberries seem like an odd addition to me, but you know I trust your taste. If you say it was good, I'm sure it was delicious.

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  28. nice blog... you can also visit my one

    momskitchen

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