The Luscious Life– Avocado Artichoke Salad “alla Romana”
Brooke first ate this salad–equal parts bright & crunchy, creamy & satisfying–in Rome, at a trattoria near the Pantheon. She knew I’d love it so we recreated it at home for a light supper. We made one big plate of green goodness, grabbed two forks and a bottle of white (a great crisp, floral Zaccagnini Verdicchio Classico 2008–Brooke’s choice) and polished off our Roman export while watching the Good Wife. A little Rome and a little New York City all at once.
3 medium artichokes
1 ripe avocado
½ cup walnuts, lightly toasted
extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground pepper
parmesan cheese, finely shaved with vegetable peeler
Artichoke Cleaning 101
The first step to assembling this very Roman salad is to clean the artichokes.When cleaning artichokes, green means go… as in its “gotta go.” All of the green parts of an artichoke must be removed because they are too tough or fibrous to eat.
The first step in preparing artichoke hearts is making a bowl of water with half a lemon squeezed into it to prevent the artichokes from browning; then, with a sharp knife, cut off the top 1/4 of the artichoke. Working quickly, pull back and rip off all of the green leaves, so only the yellow (or VERY pale green) colored leaves attached to the heart remain. Finally, use a vegetable peeler to peel the green fibrous parts of the stem, exposing the lighter colored tender stem below. Hold the clean artichoke in lemon water while you prepare the next.
Cut the avocado in half, remove the pit and scoop the flesh from the skins. Cut each half of the avocado into ¼ inch slices, dress with lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Set the dressed avocadoes aside.
Slice the cleaned artichokes lengthwise as thinly as possible with a mandoline or a very sharp knife. Place the sliced artichokes in a bowl, add the walnuts, 2-3 tablespoons olive oil. Toss well and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Arrange ¾ of the dressed avocadoes on the base of a large plate or platter. Top with the seasoned, sliced artichokes and pecans. Scatter the remaining avocado slices over the salad and finish with a healthy amount of parmesan shavings and a drizzle of olive oil.
Pictured: Brooke’s Rome-based best friend, Ellen, introducing her to this great seasonal salad at a candlelit trattoria near the Pantheon.