Here we are months away before we dig through the bottom of our closets for those bathing suites we shoved back there just a year ago. Another year older another year wider. The best we can do is take advantage of the beautiful spring time vegetables and eat a salad. Yes that’s right a salad. That stale word on every dieters list of acceptable meals, right next to tuna fish and cottage cheese. I personally used to hate salads until I met Salad of the Day by Georgeanne Brennan. The book has 365 recipes divided into seasons. And the layout and photography are quite intriguing as well. Nothing is more annoying than a cookbook with bad pictures. I’ve also discovered that it’s really easy to add little creative touches to salad recipes. Can’t really mess things up too bad!
My recent favorite is The 25th Day of April – Artichoke & White Bean Salad
For the Dressing
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (add more if you are a spicy freak like me!)
1 tsp ground fennel seeds (always toast your seeds first to release the aroma, then grind)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (I thought this was a little much so I cut it back to 1/4)
I also felt it needed a little more acid so I added a splash of white wine vinegar
For the Salad
1/2 lemon (if using fresh artichokes)
I can’t let lemon zest go to waste so I put the zest of half the lemon on top for garnish
6 baby artichokes, or 1 package (8oz) frozen quartered artichoke hearts, thawed and brought to room temperature
2 cans white beans, rinsed and drained
1 small red onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
2 Tbs chopped fresh oregano
1. To make the dressing combine all of the ingredients adding the oil in a thin stream and whisk. Or you can do what I do and put everything in an air tight container and shake really well.
2. If using fresh artichokes, squeeze the lemon half (make sure you get the zest off first) into a large bowl of cold water. Trim the artichoke stems, leaving about 1/2 inch. Cut 1/2 inch off the tops. Peel off the tough outer leaves (if you’re like me, you are probably sensitive to waste, but really those tough outer leaves have to go) until you reach the tender, pale green leaves. Cut each artichoke lengthwise into 6 wedges and put them into the lemon water pool. Bring a pot three-fourths full of salted water to a boil. Add the artichokes and cook until tender, about 15-20 minutes. Its always good to taste test one first. Drain and let cool at room temperature.
3. Combine all the ingredients in to a large bowl. For best results let everyone get to know each other for about 30 minutes before serving.