In the middle of their season, artichokes are fleshy with a pronounced hazelnut flavour, marrying beautifully with the fromage blanc and fish roe in this exquisite starter. You can use Greek yoghurt instead of fromage blanc if you prefer, or if you can’t find any fromage blanc.
- 4 Breton globe artichokes (400-500g each)
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- Juice of 1 lemon, plus ½ lemon, cut in half
- 120g fromage blanc
- A splash of cold milk (if needed)
- 75g rocket or watercress leaves
- 100g trout or salmon roe
- 4 slices of pain de campagne bread, toasted, to serve
1Fill a pan large enough to take the artichokes with water and bring to the boil. Meanwhile, break off the stems from the artichokes and remove the fibrous part from the base of the hearts. Using a serrated knife, cut off the tops of the leaves. Remove the outer leaves at the base of the hearts by twisting and pulling them off one at a time.
2Wash the artichoke hearts in plenty of water, then add them to the boiling water with a large pinch of salt and the half lemon. Cook at a low boil for 30-45 minutes, depending on size, adding more boiling water if necessary to keep the artichokes submerged. To check that each one is cooked, gently pull on a leaf; it should come away easily.
3Drain and refresh in cold water, then drain and set aside.
4Add the lemon juice to the fromage blanc, with just a little salt and pepper to taste, and stir to combine evenly. If the mixture seems a little thick, add the splash of milk.
5Slide a spoon down inside the leaves in the middle of each artichoke and push it down as far as the heart, then turn it right around the artichoke to release the heart from the leaves. Use the spoon to remove the choke from each heart. Remove the top leaves from each artichoke and set aside, then replace the heart in the artichoke.
6To serve, divide the rocket or watercress between 4 large plates and place the artichokes in the middle, with the reserved top leaves arranged around each in a circle. Spoon the fromage blanc mixture into the artichoke hearts and top with the trout or salmon roe. Give each guest a small plate so they can discard the non-edible part of the leaves. Serve cold (but not chilled), accompanied by warm toast.
IMAGE © LISA LINDER
First printed in our sister publication France Today
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