Vignole ~ Spring Vegetable Stew


I am a huge fan of most vegetables, but artichokes and fava beans are certainly two of my favorites. Since they are spring vegetables, I am always looking for new and delicious ways to prepare them each spring. I came across a recipe for Vignole in a tiny Umbrian cookbook and decided to give it a try. Vignole apparently originated in Rome, and is simply a spring vegetable stew and is the perfect dish to showcase the best of the season including artichokes, fava beans, and peas. I searched for other versions of this dish, and as is typical of many Italian recipes, every region seems to have their own variation of spring vegetable stew, and it often has a different name as well. I cooked all my vegetables in one pot, but added them in according to how long they would take to cook. Chopped greens are a common addition to Vignole, and I added bietole, or swiss chard, but spinach would work just as well.

To help flavor this stew, a little diced pancetta or prosciutto is often added and I do suggest that if you add it to dice it up finely. If you would prefer a vegetarian version, simply leave the pancetta or prosciutto out and substitute vegetable broth for chicken broth. Leeks and asparagus also work well in this stew although when I was making it leeks were no where to be found. Instead of enjoying this dish as a stew as I have shown below, you can also toss it into a pot of cooked drained fresh pasta which is equally wonderful. Although fresh artichokes are always better, if not available frozen artichokes would do in a pinch. To serve this delicious stew, it’s best eaten warm but not too hot to allow the flavors to come through. A drizzle of really young extra virgin olive on top is perfect, as is a sprinkling of grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese.

Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 2011

Vignole ~ Spring Vegetable Stew

A traditional Italian country stew made of the seasons best vegetables.

Ingredients:

  • 6 Small Fresh Artichokes, Cleaned And Coarsely Chopped
  • 2 Cups Freshly Podded Fava Beans
  • 1 Medium Onion, Peeled And Diced
  • 2 Ounces Diced Pancetta Or Prosciutto
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, Peeled & Minced
  • 2 Cups Fresh Podded Peas
  • 1 Bunch Washed, Dried & Chopped Swiss Chard (About 5 Cups)
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 1/2 to 2 Cups Chicken or Vegetable Broth
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1/3 Cup Chopped Fresh Mint
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley

To Serve:

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Directions:

  1. In a large saucepan, heat the oil and once hot add the onions and pancetta or prosciutto.
  2. Cook over medium heat until the onion is soft and then add the garlic.
  3. Cook until just fragrant, about another minute or two.
  4. Add 1 1/2 cups of the broth and the artichokes and continue to cook for 10 minutes.
  5. Add the fava beans and cook an additional 10 minutes before you add the peas and chopped greens.
  6. Cook until the peas are tender crisp, another 8 to 10 minutes or so.
  7. Add the chopped fresh herbs and season well with salt and pepper.
  8. Serve in warm bowls with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.