La vignarola

March 12, 2019

La vignarola

During the brief period of the early days of Spring la vignarola very often graces our table.

It is a staple side dish in Rome, a wonderful concoction of artichokes, young broad beans, sweet peas and asparagus. 

It should be gently stewed starting with the ingredients that take longer to soften and a small amount of water is added only when needed.

The dish is so flavoursome that you could add just a little bit more water and turn it into a lovely seasonal soup (minestrone) if you wish.

For 4-6 portions:

  • 3 artichokes, cleaned (see the method), the hearts cut into 6-8 pieces and the peeled stalks sliced
  • 150 g of peeled broad beans
  • 150 g of shelled peas
  • 8 asparagus (only the soft part and the heads to be used) sliced into rings and the head kept separately
  • 100 g of cos (Roman) lettuce, coarsely sliced 
  • 3-4 spring onions, chopped
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • a few mint leaves for garnish
  • a few parsley leaves for garnish
  •  30 ml of white wine (optional)
  • 100 g of guanciale (optional), cubed

In a pot heat up a couple of table spoons of olive oil and add the spring onions. Fry them briefly without colouring. 

Now add the prepared artichokes and on a moderate heat let them cook and colour with the onions for 10 minutes (stirring occasionally).

Add the broad beans to the pot (and after 1 minute pour in the wine if using) and cook for another 5 minutes. Add a splash of water if needed.

Next go in the peas, put the lid on and cook everything for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally.

The asparagus and the lettuce are added as the last ingredients. Add another splash of water if you feel that the vignarola needs it, give it a stir and gently cook for 10 minutes. The ingredients should still have some crunch.

If you choose to use guanciale, fry it in a separate pan until golden and add it to the stew. The stage at which you want to add it is your personal choice, the sooner you mix all the ingredients together the more time they will have to absorb the guanciale flavour.

Taste and season la vignarola to your liking. You could drizzle some good olive oil on top right now.

Serve lukewarm rather than hot garnished with mint and parsley leaves.