Artichoke Panzanella

July 4, 2008
Even though I am not really a list-making person, I have found myself recently wondering what 10 cookbooks I would take with me to a desert island (provided that said desert island has my stove, my pots, and my knives waiting for me). A definite on that list would be Annie Sommerville’s Everyday Greens. No, it is not a cookbook full of recipes for collards and kale, it is from Greens restaurant in San Francisco, a vegetarian mecca. Like Fields of Greens and The Greens Cookbook, this book is one of my go-to’s when I want to make something special. Because don’t let the “Everyday” part of the title fool you – these recipes are fairly, uh, involved.

For quite some time I have been eyeing the Artichoke Panzanella recipe in there and have, up until yesterday, been tripped up by the first step which is to prepare a completely different salad on a completely different page. This is how Sommerville gets you. You look at the list of ingredients and see only, say, six and think – not so bad. But then you realize that ingredients 1-3 are actually complete recipes found in other parts of the book and then you start to wonder, “Everyday Greens?”

This time I was determined and made the Simple (ha ha) Artichoke Salad so I could then make the Artichoke Panzanella. And when all was said and done, it was, as per usual with this cookbook, delicious and worth the effort. I have to confess though – it can be made a lot easier without sacrificing much in the flavor department. (Pardon me while I lock the door so the Food Police don’t come after me). You can (click) use frozen artichokes and jarred roasted red peppers.

Now if you are a purist, or if you really really love artichokes, I would just go ahead and go for it. My advice would be to use the babies because there is no choke so they are a little easier to manage. If you have never broken down an artichoke before, there is a terrific photo tutorial here. I figured it out myself several years ago, but would have loved to have this advice at the time.

As for the peppers, if you do choose to roast them yourself, I find the best way to do this is to put them on a baking sheet into a 450 degree oven. Don’t even bother brushing them with oil. Roast them for about 20 minutes, turning once half way through. Once they are browned in spots (it doesn’t have to be all over), pull them out and either wrap a large sheet of foil around the whole baking sheet, or put them in a heat-proof bowl and throw a clean kitchen towel over the top. Either way, wait about 10 minutes, uncover and let them cool enough so that you can handle them – the skins will come off beautifully. I find this temperature and amount of time in the oven roasts them so they are wonderfully juicy (make sure you peel and de-seed them over a bowl so you catch all that wonderful juice) and tender without being mushy.

A note on the bread. I used a loaf that I had allowed to sit out on my counter for a few days so it was really stale. If you have fresh bread, take the step described in the recipe of baking the bread – if you have stale bread, you can skip it.

Panzanella with Artichokes, Olives, and Manchego
Adapted from
Everyday Greens
Serves 6

If you are using jarred roasted peppers, drain them well, and cut enough to measure 1 cup.

Simple Artichoke Salad (see recipe below)

1 pound loaf of rustic bread, crust removed, cut into 3/4 inch pieces

2 tbsp. sherry vinegar

2 tbsp. red wine vinegar

1/3 cup olive oil

1 each large red and yellow pepper, roasted peeled, and cut into thick strips

24 Kalamata olives, pitted and halved

Large handful of arugula

2 oz. Manchego cheese, cut into very thin slices with a cheese planer

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Make the Simple Artichoke Salad and set aside.

Toss the bread cubes with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and bake until lightly browned and just crisp on the outside, about 10 minutes.

Combine the vinegars, 1/4 tsp. salt, and a pinch of pepper in a large bowl and slowly whisk in the olive oil. Add the bread cubes, peppers, olives, and artichokes and toss to coat with the vinaigrette. Set aside to marinate for 10-15 minutes. Just before serving, toss in the arugula and cheese and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. (The salad, without the arugula and cheese, can be made up to 8 hours in advance. Store in the fridge but eat the salad at room temperature).

Simple Artichoke Salad
Makes about 3 cups

If you are going to use frozen artichokes, I would add them, unthawed, to the poaching liquid as described below.

2 pounds small artichokes, trimmed
2 1/2 cups water

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup white wine

3 tbsp. lemon juice

1 tbsp
. Champagne vinegar

2 garlic cloves, smashed with the flat side of a knife, skin left on

3 fresh thyme sprigs

1 bay leaf

1 tsp. salt

Pinch of pepper

Combine everything except the artichokes in a wide non-reactive pan and bring to a boil. Drop in the artichokes and cover the surface with parchment paper or an heat-proof inverted plate to keep the artichokes submerged. Bring the liquid back to a boil, lower the heat and simmer until tender, 10-15 minutes depending on their size. To test whether they are done, stick the tip of a knife into the base and the leaves, make sure both are tender.

Once done, drain the artichokes and toss them with:
1/2 tbsp. olive oil

1/2 tsp. minced garlic

1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest

salt and pepper to taste

One last note:  To make sure the artichokes are done, I would taste one. You want to be able to easily bite through (and swallow the leaves). When I made this yesterday, the base was done but not the leaves so I ended up having to cut that part off and just use the base.

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