artichoke, cranberry bean and arugula salad

Sometimes I’m worried that I might be boring you guys. Yes, yes, being plagued by feelings of dullness and inadequacy, how very tired of me. But, let’s take some of the themes we have here; artichokes, beans, arugula, salad, bread and the most repetitive one of all: I ate something somewhere, and had to have it again ASAP so I tried to make it myself. Today, we’ve got all of them bundled into one. I try to say to myself, Deb, not everyone is infatuated by artichokes, arugula, beans and salads and every single way you can think of eating them either separately or together. I try to rationalize, although it’s not my strong suit. But then I imagine a world without people who get as excited as I do about artichokes! arugula! beans! and it makes me terrifically sad. Thus today I present to you: Artichoke, Cranberry Bean and Arugula Salad, or seriously the best thing I’ve gotten to eat twice in a week in way too long.

artichokes, stunners

We went out to dinner at really-you-must-go-there Dressler in Williamsburg on Saturday night with our most newly-married friends. Alex and Steve had leaden cocktails and I, well you know, I did that thing you do with your married female friends where you make sure they’ve ordered something with alcohol? Or you’ll start with the irresponsible rumor-mongering? Oh, I know this because it happens to me like every freaking day and people, there is always wine in my hand. We’re all caught up now? Onwards, then.


I wasn’t kidding the sixteen times I’ve mentioned in the past that I am a) obsessed with artichokes, b) that they are my favorite food on earth and c) that I will order pretty much anything on a menu that involves even a smidgen of them, thus when I saw that there was a salad comprised of an artichoke, cranberry beans and arugula, I briefly wondered if I could just order one for an appetizer and run off into the sunset with another. I controlled my desires (mostly), difficult as it was. The salad was dreamy, and I did my best not to moan audibly as I consumed, and seriously, why had I not thought of this before?

aritchoke preparation

I fixed this last night. It was just my luck, really, after I’d whimpered and cried last week over the immaculate beauty of the artichokes MattBites had photographed. Why did my artichokes never, ever look like that? Why must I live on the wrong coast to truly be their Number One Fan? And then last night at the store, there they were, perfectly round and flawless, leafy orbs, looking especially pert after a 3,000+ mile trek. Clearly, this was a sign.

artichoke preparation

Now, I know preparing artichokes can be a little intimidating, and this dish had the extra twist of trimming them into a bowl-shape, which I will try to make as simple as possible for you to try yourself. Once you’ve gotten this done, and boiled them* for about a half-hour, you’re home free. I used some fancy-schmancy Italian imported cranberry beans from a jar; their plumpness adds a terrific texture to this dish, but go ahead and use your bean of choice. The dressing could not be simpler, as is it a thinned out version of the dipping sauce my mother always made when she cooked whole artichokes and my absolutely favorite flavor pairing with them. Toss the beans with it and fill the artichoke cavity; toss the arugula with it and spread it about, and that’s it.

Dinner–with some cured meats, pickled vegetables and sliced baguette on a platter, and a glass of Gruner Veltliner, because, oh, why not–is served. It’s the perfect light but indulgent 9:30 p.m. answer to your earlier torture on the treadmill. Unfortunately, it does nothing to offset the suckiness that Lost insists upon being these days, but it will make it easier to tolerate. Really, we’re just skimming the surface of artichokes’ charms.

aritichoke, cranberry bean and arugula salad

* If you are as easily amused as I am, this is definitely going to be the best part. The artichoke hearts, you see, if you place them bowl-side down in the pot, bob around in the boiling water like those wind-up teeth at the dentist’s office, burping out little bits of water. Minutes and minutes of entertainment, people.

Artichoke, Cranberry Bean and Arugula Salad

2 of the largest, most globe-like artichokes you can find
2 lemons
A few cloves of garlic, smashed but left in their skins
One can of cranberry beans, rinsed and drained
A bundle of fresh arugula, washed and dried
2 to 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste

Prepare your artichokes: Peel the toughest, smallest and greenest outer leaves off and discard them. Once you reach the first of the yellow leaves, of moderate thickness, you’re good. Leaving half to one full inch of the yellow leaves attached to the stem, cut the remainder off in one clean cut. Now, start scooping, with a small paring knife and a small spoon (a grapefruit one works great here). You want to remove all of the spindly inner leaves as well as all off the furry choke, while creating a bowl shape, using those truncated yellow leaves as sides. Rub half a lemon over every cut surface, so it doesn’t brown. Be generous. Now, as carefully as you can, peel all of the dark green skin from the stem, again rubbing each cut surface with the halved lemon. Trim the stem down to one inch or less, making sure that it is flat and that when turned upside-down, the artichoke can balance on the surface, again coating the surface with lemon. Repeat this process for the second artichoke.

Bring a large pot of water to boil, adding a few glugs of plain vinegar, those garlic cloves and the lemons you’d used to coat the artichokes, first squeezing any remaining juice into the pot. If you have any old white wine, this is also an excellent flavor to impart in the artichokes. Boil the bowl-shaped artichoke hearts for about 25 to 35 minutes, or until they can be pierced easily with a fork. Drain them and set them aside. (These can be cooked a day or even two in advance, and reheated when you’re ready to make the salad.)

Make your dressing: Whisk your mayonnaise with the juice of one lemon. You want a thin dressing. Season it with salt and pepper.

Assemble your salad: Turn each artichoke upside-down on a plate so it stands on it’s truncated stem. Toss about 1/2 to 2/3 of a cup of beans with a spoonful or two of the dressing, and fill the artichoke cavity with them. Toss the arugula with more dressing, and arrange it over and around the artichoke. Season with more salt and pepper. Leave the extra dressing near you as you’ll probably want more for your artichoke heart. Eat with vigor.

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38 comments on artichoke, cranberry bean and arugula salad

  1. Oh Sheesh. Food looks good. I know I have told before, but I have been to the Artichoke capital of the world (in california) and they have a parade and an artichoke queen every year. The very first artichoke queen was named Norma-Jean, later to be known as Marilyn Monroe. Just a little fun fact for y’all.

    Anyway, I must go into hiding. I have scarred my nearly sterling reputation and shamed the Britton family name twice in one week. Will you still be seen in public with me and my big red scarlett letter?

    aah aha ha


  2. C

    I am not bored and thank you for telling me how to prepare an artichoke because seriously – I was wondering about them today.

  3. Mel

    I love artichokes and will never get tired of reading about them, cooking with them or eating them (although my husband always seems to pick them out of every dish complaining that there were too many ‘chunks’-oh well, more for me).

  4. Don’t worry- another artichoke and bean lover happy to listen. I make a very similar dish of artichokes with a fava bean and almond filling, it’s so good, and is a copycat of one I had in Egypt once. I believe there’s a similar recipe in Claudia Roden’s “Arabesque.”

  5. Yummy! I love artichokes – though not as much as asparagus. Those might green sticks of fortitude. Digressing, I know. But, I’ve never heard of cranberry beans. Muy interesante. (Helping you with your spanish for the the big trip!).

    Also, I concur with Rube, C, GTO, and Mercedes…not bored one bit. If anything, I must stifle laughter at work because, frankly, the place can be a bit dull.

    Now, I must run over to Jocelyn’s site and see what mayhem the woman caused…

  6. Ah, arugula. Heaven in leaf form.

    I was just in NYC for a few days and had the most amazing meals, but the most, most amazing meals involved arugula.

  7. This is the first time I’ve seen artichokes raw and top sliced off. I only know them in their bottled form, because I’m too intimidated to cook them.

  8. I agree with the others… there’s never a dull moment here!

    These guys look so cute. I have a fascination with food served inside other food that looks like bowls, plates, baskets, etc. Amuses me to no end I tell ya. And hearing these things burp while boiling? That would keep me fascinated for quite some time. Tis’ the simple things in life that bring the most pleasure. :)

  9. Sue

    This is perfect timing – just bought way too many artichokes at the green market this week (I am in california, where it is the law to consume ones weight in avocados and arties) and I was looking for a new way to prepare them. This looks yummy.

  10. Jelena

    The only thing I can relate to your salad story, is that tonight when I went grocery shopping I was pricked by a thorn from an artichoke. I’ve never bought fresh ones as they are expensive and I wouldn’t know what to do with them, but your salad looks great! I hate to admit that I would actually buy one just to watch it bob around a pot of boiling water…. I am only 18 though, so maturity has not yet caught up with me.

  11. Bored? Heavens, no. Why, thanks to you, just this week I have made Nigella’s endive and grain mustard salad and my very first pavlova. As for the salad, I have never tried crack, but this is surely better. It is probably also equally as addictive, but endives won’t get you arrested! And pavlova? 1. Ina was right – this is last-meal-worthy. 2. I halved the recipe since you were probably feeding a crowd, and I figured, Ina says it’s good, Deb says it’s good, we’ll probably eat most of it. WRONG. All. 3. Raspberry sauce. *swoon*

  12. I’m loving the artichokes, loving the pictures, and especially loving how easy and clear you make preparing an artichoke. Ah, the magenta and green in that picture–I’m seduced by a vegetable.

  13. Artichokes=love in my book. And I’m lucky enough to live with roommates who won’t eat the things, so they’re mine, all mine! (my precioussssss…) Where was I? Oh yes. Your blog is never boring. And more artichokes please!

  14. Deb! I stumbled across you looking for a recipe for Frise aux Lardons (which I did, and it was wonderful). Now you’re on my favorite foodporn list! Artichokes rule. Gotta get me some.

  15. Jenny from Michigan

    Dear Deb,

    I am smitten with your kitchen! I read your column occasionally, and I just wanted to send along a thank you/you’re wonderful note! Your spring asparagus and shitake mushroom risotto is my all-time favorite recipe! I made it for a housewarming tapas potluck last night, and it was absolutely the hit of the party.

    Your blog is a treat to read — thanks for the gorgeous pictures!


  16. Deb-love,

    First-off, you’re never a bore. Second off, you rock for bringing SK into the world. Pertaining to both, I made this unkempt little salad to accompany some home-brew Fred Steak (you must love Fred Steak) and quinoa pilaf for Easter sup and we’re talking big hit. Gorgeous darling, gorgeous. I steamed the hearts with sauvignon blanc, garlic, eureka lemons nubbins, and a thoroughly indiscriminant quantity of chervil freshly liberated from the garden. White beans in the dressing (used Lawry’s for the salt, gasp!) and more Tellicherry pepper than strictly necessary. BTW, if you’ve got a Magic Bullet, it’s handy in the dressing. Chilled the whole fandango and assembled it with microplaned pecorino-romano over mesclun greens and yeah. That’ll do. Thanks sweets!

  17. thank you for acknowledging that these veggies are intimidating! i am soooooo afraid of them, i cannot even tell you. i have yet to prepare them myself but adore them each time i have them anywhere. please don’t even THINK of apologizing for using these wonderful ingredients repeatedly. we all have our preferred flavors and there is nothing wrong with using them in as many ways as humanly possible.. especially when the ones you’ve chosen are included – as they are some of the most delicious ones out there!

    i can’t wait to try this one out! thanks for sharing it – most especially the lengthy (much needed!) explanation about the artichoke preparation!

  18. you have the most infectious way of writing. i love how passionate you are about food and how well you’re able to express it through your blog. :D

  19. Maria

    It sounds like a tasty bean salad. My only problem: Where I could find fresh Cranberry beans in San Diego? I have been inquiring at “Whole foods” and “Henry’s” and nobody knows what I am talking about. I even took some pictures to see if they could identify them. Nobody knew about cranberry or also known as Romano beans. Someone told me that you could buy them canned (“Goya” brand).
    At “Trader Joe’s” someone knew but they do not sell them. Please help!

  20. deb

    Hi Maria — You can absolutely buy them canned, and they are still delicious. I’m not sure exactly what their season is, but I found them a couple months ago and haven’t seen them lately, so perhaps it has already passed. The Whole Foods (by me in NYC at least) is not great at stocking these sort of specialty items, but they always have them canned. Good luck!

  21. To me, The Dressler is one of the best restaurants in NY, also Dumont that actually is owned by the same person. I celebrated my bday dinner there, and I ordered this salad, after that I order it everytime I went there. It’s amazing! Thanks for the recipe now, I’ll be able to make it at home!BTW try the pumpkin ravioli there too, exquisite!

  22. Sofia

    This salad. Was. AWESOME. Tonight was also the first time I’ve cooked artichokes, and it couldn’t have been easier. Thanks for the great instructions!

  23. So glad this was linked through today’s post, otherwise I probably never would have found it! It sounds simply fantastic. And to think yesterday I was staring at some beautiful artichokes at the grocery store for 99 cents each and passed them because I had already planned the meals for the week and didn’t know where I’d fit them in. I may need to do some rearranging!

  24. Marry

    I made this and I felt so fancy! Fresh cranberry beans were at the farmer’s market, lucky me:) Such a creative, easy and delicious meal. Thanks Deb!!

  25. I can’t find artichoke in Portugal, it’s impossible. I’ll keep trying to find, I love it! There are delicious receipts in this blog, I have already made a few and they are all awesome!