Raw artichokes salad with bulgur, spring herbs and feta

May 16, 2015

In Greek mythology, Cynara was a beautiful nymph who, having declined to live on Olympus with Zeus, was thrown to earth by the angry god and transformed into the tasty artichoke plant that we all love. His loss!
The Peloponnese and Crete are the main regions where artichokes are commercially cultivated because they hate frost and need a mild climate in order to survive. In our garden we grow some wild thorny artichoke plants with a superb taste, but the common varieties found in most markets are bigger, lack thorns, and have a milder flavor that is still very tasty. In our area, fresh artichokes are served raw with lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil as a meze for ouzo or wine.
Really fresh artichokes, have a crunchy, slightly nutty flavor that resembles the taste of raw chestnuts. I wanted to try them as a salad main course, so I used spring herbs for extra flavor, bulgur wheat to give bulk, and feta for some more protein and taste. The result was an aromatic flavorful dish which can be served either as a side salad or alone.

Raw artichokes salad with bulgur, spring herbs and feta

Serves 2

2 artichokes
2 spring onions chopped
2Tbsps fresh fennel or dill finely chopped
4Tbsps fresh parsley, finely chopped
1Tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped
150gr crushed feta
1/2tsp chili flakes (optional)
2Tbsps lemon juice plus 3Tbsps for preparing the artichokes
3Tbsps extra virgin olive oil
Zest from half a lemon
180gr bulgur wheat 
500gr tepid water
1tsp salt

Start with the bulgur. Place bulgur in a bowl with the salt and cover with 500gr of tepid water. Mix with a spoon for a moment to dissolve the salt. Set aside for 2 hours to soak, or cook the mix for 15min if you are short of time.
Meanwhile prepare the artichokes. In a bowl add about 2 cups of water and 3Tbsps of lemon juice. Take an artichoke and pull off the green outer leaves to expose the pale yellow ones. With a knife trim the top of the articke leaves, (about 1,5 -2 cm). Use a vegetable peeler to shave off the dark, tough layer of the stem and the underside of the heart. Use a teaspoon to remove the fibrous choke in the center of the artichoke. Cut each half into 3-4 pieces and  immediately place them in the lemony water to stop them discoloring.
Drain the bulgur and place it on kitchen paper to absorb the excess water. Place the bulgur in a bowl and add spring onions, fennel, parsley, mint and lemon zest. Mix to combine. Transfer the bulgur mix to a salad plate, add the artichoke pieces, chili flakes and crushed feta. 
In a shaker mix lemon juice and olive oil and drizzle over the salad. Serve.

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