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Warm Artichoke and Bread Salad with Marinated Crescenza

When fresh artichokes are in season, try this inventive bread salad from Chef Traci Des Jardins. The dish includes Crescenza cheese, a soft cow’s milk cheese that has a creamy texture and mild, delicate flavor. Originating in Italy, the cheese is now made by U.S. producers as well.

Ingredients:

For the marinated Crescenza:

  • 1 lb. Crescenza cheese
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 tsp. finely minced fresh thyme
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  •  
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 24 to 36 baby artichokes (depending on their size), or 6 globe
      artichokes
  • 2 Tbs. plus 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 3 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 lb. salad mix (use a hearty mix with baby arugula, mizuna
      and tatsoi)
  • 3 Tbs. finely cut fresh basil
  • 1 loaf airy, day-old French bread (batard style), about 1/2 lb.,
      crust removed and bread torn into 1/2-inch pieces

Directions:

Place the cheese in a nonreactive pie dish or baking dish. In a bowl, combine the parsley, thyme, basil and extra-virgin olive oil. Pour over the cheese and season well with salt and pepper. This may be done up to 3 days in advance; cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Just before serving the salad, cut the cheese into slices.

Fill a bowl with water and add the lemon juice. “Turn” the artichokes by removing the tough outer leaves with a knife and trimming away any of the green part, then cut each artichoke in half and remove the choke. Place in the acidulated water to prevent browning. When all of the artichokes have been prepared, slice them 1/8 inch thick.

Place the 2 Tbs. pure olive oil in a large sauté pan and heat over medium heat. Add the artichokes, increase the heat to medium-high, and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the artichokes are a nice golden brown and no longer al dente, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet.

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar and the 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil to make a vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper. In a large bowl, combine the salad greens and basil.

Place the 1/4 cup pure olive oil in a large sauté pan, set over medium heat and add the bread. Season well with salt and pepper and cook until browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the artichokes and heat until warm.

Add the warm artichokes and bread to the bowl with the salad greens, drizzle with the vinaigrette and toss. Season well with salt and pepper. Serve the salad on large individual plates with 3 pieces of cheese around the perimeter of the plate, or on a big platter with the cheese underneath or tossed in. Serves 8.

Recipe by Traci Des Jardins, Chef/Owner, Jardinière and Mijita, San Francisco.