Seeds of Spring

After a long winter of hearty stews, rib-sticking chili and all things roasted, I’m craving the fresh, light, revitalizing vegetables of spring. Who’s with me?

Luckily, one of the season’s best is ready for its debut. Say hello to artichokes! Loved for its sweet, nutty flavor, a ripe artichoke is bright, olive-green with tightly-closed leaves. Now, for a veggie with such a distinct flavor profile, it’s important to pair it with ingredients that deliver as much flavor to the dish. To me, this go-to flavor pairing is Prosciutto di Parma. Known for its full-bodied, complex, savory-sweet flavor, prosciutto is the ying to the artichoke’s yang – truly a match made in foodie heaven.

For a sweet & tangy taste, drizzle your salad with the leek vinaigrette, then top with sun dried tomatoes and Grana Padano. Grab your fork and dig into this celebratory salad to kick off longer, warmer days ahead!

Baby Artichoke Salad with Prosciutto di Parma
6 baby artichokes, trimmed and halved
1 tablespoon lemon juice
7 tablespoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1 small leek, white part only, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
1 ½ teaspoons whole grain mustard
2 cups baby arugula
1 cup bite-size pieces frisee lettuce
6 slices Prosciutto di Parma
1 oil-packed sun dried tomato, sliced
1/4 cup shaved Grana Padano

In a large pot of boiling water, cook artichokes until tender. Drain and let cool. In a medium bowl combine artichokes, lemon juice , 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, 1/8 teaspoon each salt and pepper; set aside.

In a medium over medium low heat, melt butter. Add leek, stirring frequently, until golden brown. Remove from heat. In a blender add leeks, vinegar, honey, mustard and remaining 1/8 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Puree the mixture, scraping down with a spatula occasionally. Add remaining 6 tablespoons olive oil to blender. Puree until smooth.

In a large bowl toss arugula, frisee, and 1 tablespoon of the vinaigrette. Place greens in the center of a serving plate. Add Prosciutto di Parma, sun dried tomatoes, shaved Grana Padano and artichokes around the greens. Drizzle with a tablespoon of the remaining vinaigrette.

Yield: 4-6 servings