From the Kitchen Window column
Italian Jewish cuisine does a wonderful job of celebrating the foods of spring, often lightly stewing them up with just a bit of seasoning such as saffron. In this mina, artichoke bottoms (fresh or frozen) are simmered with an equal amount of potatoes and studded with peas. Gremolata, a pungent mixture of lemon zest, garlic and fresh parsley, is not common to Sephardic cuisine (you're more likely to see it accompanying the Milanese osso buco), but it does a lovely job of bringing a bright note to the oven-cooked mina.
Makes filling for an 8- or 9-inch mina
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound artichoke bottoms, cut into thick slices
1 pound waxy red or yellow potatoes, peeled and cut into rough chunks
1 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 hefty pinch saffron
Salt and white pepper, to taste
1 cup peas, fresh or frozen (no need to thaw or precook)
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
Finely-grated zest of 1 lemon
*Frozen artichoke bottoms are available in Middle Eastern markets. Jarred artichoke bottoms are available at some supermarkets. Make sure they are plain, not marinated.
Heat the olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add the garlic, saute for 1 minute and add the sliced artichoke bottoms. Saute until the garlic colors to a light brown. Add the potatoes, broth and saffron. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat until it is just high enough to maintain a simmer. Cover and simmer until the potatoes are falling-apart tender, 20 to 30 minutes.
When the potatoes are done, mash the entire mixture with a potato masher (or fork, if you don't have one) until everything is reduced to a rough mash, with no pieces larger than bite-size. The mixture should be much looser than standard mashed potatoes, somewhere just shy of soupy. You can add more broth (or simmer some off) as needed. Season to taste with salt and white pepper — depending on the saltiness of the broth, salt may not be needed. Stir in the peas. Proceed with the Basic Mina Template recipe.
When the mina is out of the oven, mix together all of the gremolata ingredients, and bring to the table for diners to sprinkle over their mina as desired. A hot sauce such as harissa also is nice.