Vignarola is an Italian vegetable stew at its very best in Spring. Full of flavour and green goodness, it is in season when its three main ingredients – broad beans, peas, and artichokes – overlap at the market and are at their sweetest and most tender, normally from April to late May. It can be made out of season using preserved and frozen ingredients.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1 lemon (save the zest to flavour olive oil or to add to a cake for a citrus burst)
  • Artichokes (either 4 artichokes, large fresh ones or a jar of preserved artichokes)
  • A splash of olive oil
  • 6 spring onions, sliced
  • 150 millilitres of white wine (any white wine you would drink, but it doesn’t matter if it’s been open for a while)
  • 300 grams of peas, (fresh is best which equals 1 kilogram in their pods, frozen is fine)
  • 300 grams of broad beans, (fresh is best which equals 1 kilogram in their pods, frozen is fine)
  • A handful of mint leaves and a handful of parsley, shredded
  • sea salt and cracked black pepper

Method

  1. To start the vignarola, cut the lemon in half and keep it handy. Prepare the artichokes by first removing the outer tougher leaves. Using a small serrated knife, cut off the tips of the artichokes and three-quarters of the stem. Remove any of the remaining woody bit from the base of the artichoke and the outer part of the stalk to reveal the white core. Squeeze some lemon juice over the artichokes as you go. Cut each artichoke half into quarters, removing any hairy choke (you really don’t want to eat this). Drench them in lemon juice and set aside. You can skip this step if you are using prepared and jarred artichokes.
  2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan set over a medium heat. Add the sliced spring onions and fry them gently, until soft and translucent. Next, add the artichokes and stir to coat them in oil. Pour over the wine and a splash of water, season with salt and pepper, cover with a lid and allow them to cook for about 10 minutes (less if using jarred), stir regularly.
  3. Add the peas and broad beans. Taste, adjust the seasoning, and cook for 2–3 minutes, just enough for them to soften and brighten. At the very end, stir in the herbs. Remove from the heat and leave to cool to just above room temperature, so the flavours really sing.
  4. Serve warm with plenty of crusty bread and butter.

This recipe is by Mark Breen of Seasonal Kitchen.

Hard core want more: try our grilled mackerel and warm new potato salad with spring onions and spinach, or check out our guide to eating seasonally.