Sunday, April 30, 2006

"The Best Thing You Ever Did"

Artichoke Panzanella

photograph picture how to make recipe for panzanella with artichokes olives and manchego

Fred was moved to declare "Zeez eez ze best ting you eveur did" when I first made him this dish about a month and a half ago. I stared at him agog. "The best thing I ever did?" I nervously responded, my mind flashing with mini movies of all the other wonderful things I had done in the presence of Fred. He quickly realised his faux pas and ammended his statement. "No, eetz not the best ting you eveur did, eetz ze best salad you did so far." Phew, I thought, as he added an A+++ to the recipe just for good measure.

I learnt to make this salad at Tante Marie's Cooking School last year, in a class taught by Jessica Lasky who adapted it from Everyday Greens by Annie Sommerville. The following recipe includes further adaptions from me.

Stage 1 - Prepare the Artichokes:
Prepare 3 medium artichokes, trimming the tough outer leaves, halving to remove the choke and then cutting each half into three or four depending on the size.
In a saucepan, prepare a cooking liquid using 2 1/2 cups of water, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/2 cup white wine, the juice of two lemons, 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar, 2 garlic cloves (unpeeled but smashed with a knife), a couple of sprigs of thyme, one bay leaf, salt and pepper. Drop the prepped artichokes into the liquid, cover loosely and bring to the boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes until the artichokes are tender. Drain, removing the herbs and garlic and then toss the vegetables with tablespoon of olive oil, 1 medium garlic clove, minced, the zest of a small lemon plus salt and pepper to taste.

For the Panzanella Artichoke Salad:

1 day-old loaf rustic white bread
1/2 cup Olive Oil, plus more for bread
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 cup cured green olives, pitted
1/2 lb arugula salad
2 oz manchego cheese, grated
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350F
Remove crusts from the bread and cut into cubes.
In a large bowl, toss the bread with enough olive oil to soak into the cubes and season with salt and pepper.
Arrange the cubes on a large baking tray and pop in the oven for about 10 minutes until they are crisp and golden.
Mix the vinegars in a bowl with salt and pepper. Whisk in 1/2 cup of olive oil slowly, until the dressing blends and emulsifies.
In a large bowl toss together the artichokes, bread, olives and the vinaigrette and leave to marinate for 10 minutes.
Immediately prior to serving toss in the arugula leaves and the grated Manchego cheese.
Sample the salad and then adjust salt and pepper to taste.
Serve, enjoy!

PS. Check out the Andrew's Announcement about the May Edition of Foodography

PPS. "...a blog from restaurant critic Michael Bauer, scheduled to begin May 1" [SFgate, April5]. I can't wait til tomorrow for this. He's got some tough competition in the form of New York Times' Frank Bruni whose blog absolutely kicks arse.

PPPS. Monkey Gland has finished rounding up the girls' What's For Pud English desserts. For a full list of delicious links, check out his roundup post at Jam Faced!

PPPPS. The Eat Local Challenge for 2006 starts on May 1st, check out the blogging efforts on this new website.

Links, Resources and Further Reading
How to Trim an Artichoke | Full Pictorial Guide

Bay Area Resources:
Manchego Cheese | from Cowgirl Creamery
Artichokes | from Iacopi Farm
Arugula | from Tairwa Knolls Farm
Olives | Henry's Organic Green Olives from Eureka (via Cowgirl)
Italian Batard | from Acme Bread

The Ferry Building | Market Place
Saturday Morning | Farmers Market

Other Resources:

More IMBB Stale Bread Recipes | Obsession With Food

Archive Alert! On this day in 2005: Another recipe Fred raved about

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"The Best Thing You Ever Did"


  • At 30/4/06 15:16, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi Sam,

    This looks delish! I'll have to try this when I get home. I love artichoke season!!


  • At 30/4/06 16:55, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    hi sam,

    looks lovely. i always enjoy your recipes as they are written well and makes me think i too can make it at home. io am still on the look out for some organic chicken livers to make the crostini from a few weeks ago...

    and as usual your impersonations of fred crack me up.

    hope the work isn't too much for you

  • At 30/4/06 17:13, Blogger cookiecrumb said…

    Cranky almost always says of the things I make, "Thishmmmgghhhbestyouhhhmmmever!" I can hardly believe him, can I?
    Thanks for the idea of an artichoke panzanella; mine have always been made with tomatoes. But you know about me and tomatoes...

  • At 30/4/06 22:29, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sam, as a man with a serious love of artichokes (and Manchego, olives, arugula, and good olive oil), I have to say I think Fred's on to something.

    I love this recipe, both for its simplicity and its promise of great flavour.

  • At 1/5/06 11:06, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi Sam,
    The way you prepared the bread for your version of panzanella is pretty much the same as ours. Sometimes I add chopped garlic, chopped chiles or fresh herbs to the oil-bread mixture, but roasting the bread chunks in the oven is key! The real Italian version calls for soaked bread - urghhh, this is where authenticity stops for me ;)

  • At 1/5/06 17:02, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    yes, please. Can you make me one, too?
    btw, check for the new blog tomorrow night.

  • At 1/5/06 23:04, Blogger G said…

    looks fabulous. my 2 year old son loves green olives.

  • At 2/5/06 01:41, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Mmmm manchego cheese my favourite. I had some this weekend with some excellent Iberico ham from Borough Market.

  • At 2/5/06 07:25, Blogger Sam said…

    Bruno - artichoke season is the best - especially since I learnt how to prep them properly at cooking school.

    Deborah - I am glad you like them - I dont find writing recipes to be the easiest thing, its much easier when you have another recipe to start with and then just change it to suit your own tastes.

    Cookie - well you are luck - Fred says it rarely, so when he does say it I know it really means something special.

    Rob - I promise you the flavour is great, especially if you arent shy of vinegar. We arent in this household.

    Lex - well I hope cakes liked it - maybe you can try this recipe on him next?

    Nicky - I like to add garlic too, sometimes - I added some pain au levain and garlic and oil - oven baked croutons to a frisee lardons salad I made las night. I guess I inspired myself :)

    Tejal - the tip is to look out for it later tonight it would seem...?

    Amanda - well maybe I could, we will see,

    Gabriella - what a claim - I don't think I would even go anywhere near an olive til I was in my early 20s!

    Gastrochick - you are making me jealous - we cant get good spanish ham over here in SF because of import laws. read my friend Juan's thoughts on the subject here

  • At 2/5/06 21:17, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hey Sam,

    Been a long time lurker. Keep up the good work!

    Bauer's blog is active. I couldn't find it from the front page of sfgate. A bit of sluthing yielded:


  • At 2/5/06 22:44, Blogger Paul said…

    Wish it was artichoke season here!

  • At 5/5/06 23:51, Blogger Derrick said…

    Well, I'm glad you got a moment to post in the midst of your hectic life. Thanks for this lovely contribution.

  • At 6/5/06 04:00, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sam, i know you don't want to hear this is the best dish you've made, but seriously, this looks amazing! I'm new to california and have been taking full advantage of the artichoke season! i am definately inspired.

  • At 7/5/06 17:45, Blogger San Francisco Photos said…

    That sounds too yummy!!!!

  • At 9/5/06 13:34, Blogger chili&vanilia said…

    Hi Sam,
    just want to let you know that I've made this salad, today I blogged about it and translated the recipe into Hungarian, hope you don't mind. It's terrific, thank you very much for sharing the recipe!Zsofi

  • At 9/5/06 21:58, Blogger G said…

    Oh Yes, I know it is odd for a little boy to like olives. But he will probably hate them next year. his brother despises them.


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