You’ll commonly find this 'insalata di carciofi' on Tuscan trattoria menus during artichoke season as an antipasto but it’s also a great one to do at home – despite having to prep artichokes, this is a very simple and very quick salad that goes with everything from fish to meat to being a meal on its own (perhaps with a heavy ball of burrata and crusty bread).
First choose good artichokes. I realise here in Italy we get spoiled with the most wonderful artichokes. The ones most commonly used in Tuscany for eating raw are smallish, pointed dark purple ones. Since you’re eating these raw and artichokes can have a rather astringent quality to them, you want lovely young and tender artichokes rather than older and tough ones that do better when cooked. A good sprinkling of your best salt and some shavings of proper Parmesan cheese are an excellent foil to counter that astringency. Finally, some tart lemon juice and a rather peppery olive oil round things off nicely. —Emiko
Fill a large bowl with cold water and squeeze the juice of half a lemon into it, set aside the other half for the dressing. Prepare the artichokes by peeling the tough outer leaves off one by one, from the bottom going around and up until you reach very pale-coloured, tender leaves. Cut the stalk to about 1 inch long and then trim the bottom and stalk. Rub the cut parts with the lemon half as you go. Cut the top pointed half of the artichoke off completely then place the artichokes in the lemon water until you have trimmed all the artichokes this way.
One by one, slice the artichoke in half vertically. If there is a fluffy/thistle-like choke, remove it with a teaspoon (or a grapefruit spoon). Thinly slice the artichoke half and immediately place the artichoke slices in the lemon water. Continue with the rest of the artichokes.
Drain the artichoke slices well (pat dry with kitchen paper if necessary). Place in a large bowl and dress with the rest of the lemon juice from the lemon half, a few tablespoons of olive oil, a good pinch of sea salt and a grinding of black pepper. Scatter with Parmesan shavings and serve.
The Australian-Japanese cookbook author has lived in Florence (where a visit to a cheese farm once inspired her to start a food blog) for over 10 years with her Tuscan sommelier husband and two kids. Her third cookbook, Tortellini at Midnight, is out now.