Summer offers all kinds of fresh ingredients to use in salads, which makes it a wonderful time of year. This time around, I'll be talking about how much I love salad, as I always do when I share a salad recipe.
It's true that there are some weird-looking things in the vegetable world, and artichokes definitely top that list!
Artichokes are actually the bud of a flower, which is a type of thistle, but they are edible. An essential part of the flower bud is the heart, which is like a meaty core (well, in vegetable terms) that can be used in many ways.
The following recipe is an example of a roasted artichoke and mozzarella salad.
The recipe calls for roasted artichoke hearts which are prepared by roasting them in the oven with garlic and herbs. The flavor of artichokes hearts are enhanced by roasting them in this way, giving them an earthy, almost nutty flavor.
We packed this dish with flavor because of the addition of mozzarella balls, tomatoes, basil, and capers.
Besides being an excellent vegetarian side dish, this artichoke hearts recipe also works well as a main dish for vegetarians. The best part about this artichoke salad is that it's versatile enough to be used any way you choose.
The 6 Types of Mozzarella Cheese?
To prepare for the vegetable/thistle topic, let's have a look at mozzarella.
My favorite cheese is cheddar, but I did not know there were so many varieties. I enjoy grating it on pizzas, and I use the balls for recipes in all kinds of ways.
At least six different types exist. Let’s look at them:
Fresh Mozzarella – such cheeses are mild in flavor and they come in plastic bags or containers containing water and whey. Ciliegine and Bocconcini are about the same size as oranges, while balls are about the size of an orange.
Grated or mass-produced Mozzarella – they sell this type of mozzarella in bags without liquid and is rubberier, making it best served melted in a dish, such as pizza.
Mozzarella di Bufala – this cheese was traditionally made from water buffalo milk, but nowadays is made from bows, which has a richer taste.
Burrata – The cheese burrata is essentially mozzarella as a ball with a thick and creamy centre.
Smoked Mozzarella – mozzarella that has been smoked such as with hickory, chestnut, or apple wood.
Scamorza – a type of mozzarella, this cheese is also a ball in shape and comes plain or smoked, with less water than mozzarella.
We have used fresh mozzarella balls in this recipe - the little ones that are cut into half. It's okay to switch to another type if you wish.
How to Choose the Best Artichokes
You can learn a couple of tricks to get the freshest, most delicious food when you are shopping for such products.
If they squeak when you squeeze them, they are the freshest.
Alternatively, smaller, baby artichokes have the same taste, but are also more tender. They aren’t immature or of a smaller variety, they’re just younger!
In addition, you can use artichokes from a jar, so you won't have to prepare them much!
Some ingredients in this recipe may already be in your pantry, however I've provided links to Amazon below for specialized ingredients needed for this recipe.
You can find the full list with measurements in the recipe card.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil -
Artichoke Hearts – artichoke hearts are available in cans or jars. The artichokes that are jarred and packed in oil are usually marinated, whereas the ones that are canned are normally brined. As oil and herbs will be added to the roasted vegetables in this recipe, try to get vegetables that are brined.
Italian Seasoning - Italian Seasoning is simply a blend of rosemary, basil, thyme and marjoram, oregano and sage. It helps to bring the flavor of Italy to your roasted artichoke dish.
Arugula - Arugula is a leafy green that is a cruciferous vegetable that provides similar health benefits to broccoli and kale. Despite its high nutritional content, it can be a healthy addition to any diet.
Capers – capers can be found in brine-packed jars. It originated from a shrub called Capparis, which grows in the Mediterranean and has a distinctive sour/salty taste that enhances many savory dishes.
Balsamic Vinegar - Aside from its antioxidant properties, balsamic vinegar contains very few calories and no fat.
Dijon Mustard - Besides antioxidants, mustard contains beneficial plant compounds that defend your body against illness and disease.
- ¼ c. extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 14-oz. can or jar artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed
- 1 t. dried Italian seasoning, divided
- 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
- Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
- 3 c. fresh arugula
- 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
- 1 medium red onion, cut in half and sliced
- 3 T. capers, drained
- 3 T. fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 T. fresh basil, thinly sliced
- 2 T. balsamic vinegar
- 1 T. fresh lemon juice
- 1 t. Dijon mustard
- 8-oz. small fresh Mozzarella balls, cut in half
- Sprigs of fresh herbs, for garnish
1. Preheat oven to 400° degrees Fahrenheit and line a large, rimmed baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper or a Silpat® baking mat.
2. Pat the artichoke hearts dry and transfer to a large bowl. Add one tablespoon olive oil, ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning, and the minced garlic. Season with salt and black pepper, to taste. Toss to combine.
3. Arrange seasoned artichokes on the prepared baking sheet in a single, uniform layer and place in the pre-heated oven to roast until tender and slightly browned around the edges, approximately 20-25 minutes.
4. While the artichokes roast, combine the fresh arugula, tomatoes, red onion, capers, and fresh herbs in a large salad bowl. Set aside.
5. In a small bowl, combine the remaining olive oil with the balsamic vinegar, fresh lemon juice, Dijon mustard, and remaining Italian seasoning. Season with salt and black pepper, to taste, and whisk together until emulsified. Set aside.
6. Remove the artichokes from the oven and cool for several minutes before adding to the salad. Toss to combine and top with fresh Mozzarella. Garnish with fresh herbs, if using, and serve immediately with the balsamic dressing.