Spring in Italy means fresh artichokes and fava beans are everywhere, and I make it my mission to use both as often as possible during their short growing season. While at our local grocery store on Easter weekend, along with the usual selection of lamb cuts, there were also lots of rabbit for sale.
Rabbit isn’t always available, so I greedily grabbed two and stuck them in my freezer when I got home. I love a meaty pasta sauce as much as the next person, but I thought I’d include some artichokes and fava beans into my sauce as well to celebrate spring. I had good intentions of making my own fresh pasta for this special sauce, but as the day wore down, I ended up sending my husband out for some stringozzi, an Umbrian pasta that looks like thick spaghetti but is made from just flour and water. You could use any fresh pasta in this dish including fettuccine, pappardelle, or any dried pasta of choice.
I used fresh artichokes and fava beans in my dish, but if not available fresh in your area, you can use frozen chokes and fava beans. The rabbit needs to cook in the sauce long and slow to become tender, but since you do not want your artichokes and fava beans to become mushy, they are best added at the end.
If using frozen artichokes, use about two cups quartered chokes and add them into the sauce when you add the fava beans. Fresh artichokes need to be steamed or boiled just until tender before adding them to the sauce.
- 5 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 (3 Pound Rabbit) Cut Into Pieces
- Salt & Pepper To Taste
- 3 Small Carrots, Finely Chopped
- 1 Medium Onion, Finely Chopped
- 2 Celery Stalks, Finely Chopped
- 6 Garlic Cloves, Minced
- 1 Cup Dry White Wine
- 2 (14 Ounce) Can Chopped Tomatoes
- 1 1/2 Cups Chicken Broth
- 1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
- 1/2 Teaspoon Red Chili Flakes
- 1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley Leaves
- 6 Medium Artichokes, Cleaned
- 1 1/2 Cups Shelled Fava Beans
- 1 Pound Pasta of Choice (See Notes Above)
- Chopped Fresh Parsley
- Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese
- In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat until lightly smoking.
- Season the rabbit pieces with salt and pepper, then brown the rabbit well in the hot oil on both sides.
- Remove the rabbit to a plate.
- Add the carrots, onion, celery, and garlic to the pan and continue to cook over medium heat until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
- Add the white wine, turn the heat on high, and cook until the wine has reduced by half.
- Add the tomatoes, broth, oregano, chili flakes, and parsley.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and add the rabbit back into the pot.
- Cook the sauce for an hour until the rabbit is tender.
- While the sauce is cooking, steam or boil the artichokes just until barely tender.
- Drain, and cut into quarters.
- Remove the rabbit from the pan and when cool enough to handle, cut the meat from the bones in bite sized chunks.
- Discard the bones, and return the meat to the pot.
- Add the fava beans and artichokes to the sauce and cook another 10 minutes or until the fava beans are tender.
- While the vegetables are cooking, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil for the pasta.
- Cook the pasta “al dente” according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Drain the pasta and return to the pan.
- Add a couple f scoops of sauce and toss to coat.
- Serve the pasta in individual bowls with an additional scoop of sauce of top.
- Garnish with chopped parsley, and pass the grated cheese at the table.