A spring salad of artichokes and asparagus; of mint and mozzarella
“and he gives some tips on cooking asparagus (more precise but not dissimilar to those from La Varenne in 1651): ‘They should be speedily boiled, as not to lose the verdure and tenderness which is done by letting the water boil before you out them in.’ John Evelyn was a writer and thinker whose thoughts would not go amiss in the modern world.”William Sitwell, A History of Food in 100 Recipes
If you can manage to lay your hands on some fresh mozzarella this artichoke salad, made largely from store-cupboard ingredients, raises its game considerably. And if you live in London, you’re in luck – La Latteria is a dairy based in the heart of the capital, founded and run by Simona Di Vietri, an Italian passionate about her country’s soft cheese. (Go here for our interview with her).
Serve with some hearty, oozing garlic bread.
Recipe for a spring salad of artichokes and asparagus; of mint and mozzarella
• 1 jar (280g/10 oz) char grilled artichoke hearts
• 60 ml/¼ cup/4 tbsps white balsamic condiment, or sherry vinegar
• 8 spring onions
• 120 ml/½ cup olive oil (if the artichoke hearts are in olive oil, use some of that)
• 500g/1 lb 2 oz frozen baby broad beans (or 250g baby broad beans and 250g peas)
• 120 ml/½ cup white vermouth (ideally Noilly Prat)
• 400g/14 oz fresh green asparagus
• 750g/1 lb 10 oz mozzarella
• a small bunch of mint
• smoked salt and freshly ground black pepper (or Urfa pepper flakes)
1. Take the broad beans out of the freezer.
2. Halve the artichoke hearts, and put into a large saucepan with the condiment (or sherry vinegar) and olive oil. Heat, and bring to a simmer. Add the broad beans and the vermouth.
3. Cover and cook for five minutes.
4. Meanwhile snap off the woody ends of the asparagus (go here for this method). Add to the saucepan. Cover and cook for another six to eight minutes, depending on the thickness of the asparagus. Season, stir.
5. Snip over the spring onions.
6. Turn the vegetables out onto an attractive serving platter, reserving a little of the dressing.
7. Drain the mozzarella, and cut or tear it into small walnuts, dot around the platter, artistically.
8. Tear over the mint leaves.
9. Pour any remaining liquid over the mozzarella.
10. Best served still warm.