Once you've cooked the artichokes, this is a simple little salad to make – it's great as a starter, or with charred steak or lamb. Freshly cooked young artichokes have such a sublime flavour, and their earthy, vegetal depth is stunning with milky ricotta, pops of sweetness from the sultanas, the distinctive texture of the palm hearts and the toasty crunch of the almonds. Choose heavy artichokes with a thick sturdy stem.
40g Iranian green sultanas*
40ml sherry vinegar
400g jar hearts of palm, drained, sliced 2cm thick
3 dill sprigs, fronds picked and roughly chopped
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
40g flaked almonds, lightly toasted
For the artichokes
3 large artichokes
150ml extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 fresh bay leaf
150ml white wine
juice of ½ lemon
For the dressing
2 tbsp artichoke glaze (see step 4)
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
1½ tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1. Pull off all the outer leaves of each artichoke until you expose the pale inner core, then trim off the top and any remaining tough leaves. Trim the stem about 10cm down, then peel with a knife to remove the fibrous outer – it will be pale green underneath. Cut in half lengthways, then drop into a large bowl of acidulated water (cold water mixed with a squeeze of lemon).
2. To cook the artichokes, heat the oil in a wide-based saucepan over a high heat. Drain the artichokes, add to the pan, season with salt and turn for about 5 minutes until evenly golden.
3. Add the garlic and bay leaf to the pan and cook for a minute or so until the garlic is lightly golden. Add the wine, lemon juice and enough water to cover, then simmer gently with a baking paper cartouche (cut slightly smaller than the diameter of the pan) over the top until just tender, 10-15 minutes.
4. Cool the artichokes in the liquid for 15 minutes, then remove, leaving the garlic and bay leaf behind. Reduce the liquid by half to create a glaze. Cut the artichokes in half again, dress with the glaze (reserving 2 tbsp for the dressing) and set aside.
5. Place the sultanas and vinegar in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer, then set aside for 15 minutes to plump up.
6. Place the hearts of palm, dill and oil in a bowl, season with salt and pepper and toss.
7. To make the dressing, combine the ingredients in a small bowl. Adjust the seasoning to taste.
8. Spread the ricotta on the bottom of a large platter, then scatter the hearts of palm over the top. Arrange the artichokes on top, pointing upwards a little. Scatter over the sultanas and almonds, then spoon over the dressing and serve.
Tip: You can also use this artichoke cooking method as a basic recipe to serve with salads, in a lamb ragu or as an antipasto.
*Light golden green in colour and sweet with a hint of tartness, you can find Iranian green sultanas (also known as Persian green raisins) at specialty nut and spice stores.