Castelfranco is possibly the most beautiful leaf of all. Its crimson-flecked, pale yellow leaves have a vaguely bitter flavour that works well with crab and lobster as well as citrus and toasted nuts. Here, I have used it with its seasonal partners, artichokes and blood oranges. The artichokes are served warm, in the Italian fritto style. To check if the corn oil is hot enough, drop a small piece of bread in – it should sizzle.
500ml/17fl oz corn oil
4 globe artichokes
The juice of half a lemon
2 blood oranges
10 leaves of castelfranco
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
50ml/2fl oz extra-virgin olive oil
2tbsp small black olives
A few sprigs of rosemary, leaves only
8 slices Bayonne ham
A few drops of 'tradizionale' balsamic vinegar
Prepare the artichokes by breaking off the tough outer leaves. Cut off the top third of the artichoke leaves and then take a small spoon and scrape out the fluffy central choke. Cut the stem off at the base and place the remaining artichoke in cold water with a little lemon squeezed into it – this will prevent it from discolouring. Repeat with all artichokes.
Slice both ends from the oranges and stand them upright. Cut away the skin and pith and slice into 1/8-in rounds. Wash and pat dry the castelfranco. Tear into lovely, uneven strips with your hands, place in a bowl and season with a little salt and pepper. Squeeze over the juice from the ends of the blood oranges that were discarded earlier. Dress with a few drops of the olive oil – just enough to coat.
Chop the olives roughly. Place in a bowl and add the rest of the olive oil. Chop the rosemary and add to the olives. Stir, add a pinch of salt and stir again.
Heat the corn oil, drop in the artichokes and cook until golden-crisp. This will take a good couple of minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel.
To arrange the salad, lay the cut blood oranges on a plate. Top with a little castelfranco, some Bayonne ham and the artichokes. Finely spoon the olives over the top. Finish with a drop or two of balsamic vinegar and serve.