Heighten the flavors of this Provence-inspired salad by serving it at room temperature. It's a tasty accompaniment to grilled chicken or fresh pasta.
To prepare artichokes, trim stems; cut off top one-fourth of artichokes. Remove outer leaves until you reach the pale green parts. Halve or cut artichokes into wedges. Brush cut edges with some of the 2 tablespoons lemon juice; add remaining juice to cooking water. Cook artichokes in a large amount of boiling water for 12 to 15 minutes or until tender; drain. Rinse with cold water; drain and place in a large bowl.
Meanwhile, combine mint, garlic, lemon peel, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
Thinly slice fennel and red onion. Add to artichokes along with tomatoes and olives, if using. Toss in dressing.
Cover and chill for 2 to 4 hours to meld flavors. To serve, top with cheese, if desired. Makes six (3/4-cup) servings.
2-1/2 vegetable, 1/2 fat.