"The delicate carrots, toasted pepitas and nuts, the complexity of the sherry dressing, the creamy cheese, the pureed carrot...all shout elegance and perfect balance at the same time. Spending time in world class chef Peter Gilmore’s (Bennelong, Quay) home garden and seeing where his inspiration for clever dishes like this comes from was a complete delight." Maeve O'Meara, Food Safari Earth
This salad is flavour and texture dialed up to 11 with vegetables used in such clever ways - the leaves of the artichoke celebrated - they taste like artichoke but when used like petals and fried, add a light crispiness as well.
- 150 g sheep’s or goat’s feta
- 100 g smoked almonds, lightly roasted
- 40 g pepitas (pumpkin seeds), lightly roasted
- 100 ml extra virgin olive oil
- 16 peeled baby parisienne carrots, blanched and halved (see Note)
- 16 nasturtium leaves
- 16 ice plant tips (see Note)
- 16 kailan or pea flowers
- sea salt
- 100 g unsalted butter
- ½ brown onion, peeled and diced
- 1 white celery stalk, diced
- 1 garlic clove, finely diced
- 300 g medium carrots, peeled and diced
- 750 ml (3 cups) vegetable stock
- sea salt
- 300 ml good quality dry sherry
- 150 g caster sugar
- 50 ml sherry vinegar
- 8 small purple artichokes
- squeeze of lemon juice
- 1 litre sunflower oil, for frying
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
For the carrot puree, melt half the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add the onion, celery and garlic and cook until soft but not coloured. Add the carrots and stock and cook over medium heat until all the stock has evaporated and the vegetables are soft. Place in a food processor with the remaining butter and blend until a fine puree forms. Pass through a drum sieve, season to taste with salt and refrigerate until required.
For the sherry caramel, place the sherry and sugar into a small saucepan and stir until the sugar dissolves. Simmer over high heat until the mixture starts to caramelise. You will notice a slight change in colour and a caramel aroma. At this stage carefully add the sherry vinegar which will help to release the caramel. Return to the boil, then immediately remove from the heat and set aside to cool completely.
For the fried artichokes, using a sharp knife or a bread knife cut the top third of the artichokes off and discard. With your hands peel back the outer artichoke leaves to expose the softer inner artichoke leaves. Separate the softer artichoke leaves and place them in a bowl of water with the lemon juice as you go. Peel the artichoke stems and bases and slice finely. Add these to the leaves in the acidulated water. In small batches, dry the leaves well on a tea towel. Heat the oil to 180°C and fry the artichoke leaves and stems until golden brown. Drain on paper towel and set aside until required.
To assemble, crumble the goat’s cheese feta onto serving plates. Lightly dress the almonds and pepitas with olive oil and lightly season with sea salt. Spread the almonds and pepitas over the feta. Add half the blanched parisienne carrots. Drizzle liberally with the sherry caramel dressing. Pipe small dots of carrot puree all over the salad. Top the salad with the crisp artichoke leaves. Garnish with the remaining carrots, nasturtium leaves, ice plant tips and flowers. Sprinkle with sea salt and a drizzle of the remaining extra virgin olive oil and serve immediately.
• Parisienne carrots have small, round roots and are most readily available from growers markets.
• Ice plant is an edible coastal succulent related to saltbush. The leaves are covered in glistening cells which give the appearance of being covered in ice, hence the name.