Up in the Bekaa valley in Lebanon, you can still see artichokes growing wild as they have done for thousands of years across the Mediterranean. What is most striking about them as you drive through the valley bordered on both sides by high mountains — a few still with a smattering of snow on them — are the purple thistle-like flowers.
One of the first plants I tried to grow when I got a decent garden here in London were artichokes. They grew pretty successfully, although not to the same size as in Lebanon or Italy. I stopped growing them, though, when I had a second child and was worried she would skewer herself on the sharp thistles.
Lebanese cuisine uses artichokes in a variety of ways, particularly in the mezze. They are used in stews — and can be stuffed and roasted.
But the little recipe I am giving here is my own invention, which I came up with after discovering and falling in love with sun-dried tomatoes — again here in England rather than back home in Lebanon. With two lovely spring days just past, it seems an appropriate time for this delicious, healthy and refreshing salad.
It’s also just in time before it will become difficult to get fresh artichokes. They have been in Lebanese markets for several months now. The end of spring, though, is the end of the season
200g of baby spinach leaves
100g of wild rocket
50g of shredded raw beetroot
50g of lamb lettuce
250g of pickled artichoke
200g of sun dried tomatoes
1 lemon juiced
1 large spoon of olive oil
1/4 tea spoon of salt
1/4 tea spoon of black pepper
- Wash the spinach and wild rocket well and drain properly
- In a large salad bowl put the artichoke and sun dried tomatoes
- Add lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and mix well
- Once you are ready to serve the salad add the spinach leaves, the wild rocket, the raw beetroot and lamb lettuce and mix well
- Serve immediately