Recipes from Italy: Vignole ~ Spring Vegetables (Artichokes, Fava, Asparagus & Peas) with Fresh Pasta

by Ashley in Italy /
Ashley in Italy's picture
Apr 07, 2010 / 1 comments

pasta sauce of the month

This dish is a great way to incorporate all the fresh vegetables of spring from wild asparagus to roman artichokes & sweet fava. The dish originated in Rome, they called it vignarola or vignole but it can be found here as well in Le Marche. It's a versatile dish that you can make as a primo or pasta dish or as a stew/soup by adding more vegetable stock (and a good hunk of crusty bread).

Jason swears it really is a simple dish to make, just lots of ingredients to clean! During the spring this is his "go to" pasta for hungry guests & everyone has loved it! The longest part is the shelling of all the fava. (For the vegetarians out there, sadly, just omit the prosciutto)

We ask just one thing of you -Please, please use fresh pasta in this dish - it will make it much softer & worth the effort or cost - you will taste the difference. We use spaghetti alla chitarra or tagliatelle (local pastas), but if you can't find those types just try regular spaghetti, linguine or fettuccine.

fresh pastaVignole con Spaghetti alla Chitarra
Spring Vegetables with Pasta

serves 6

12-16 oz. of fresh pasta
4-5 small artichokes
sea salt & pepper
1 leek, outer leaves removed, cut into 3-inch lengths, washed
1/2 lb. chard (or other nice leafy greens)
extra virgin olive oil
1 small white onion, chopped
3/4 cup of vegetable stock (add another 3/4 cup if you are making into a stew) - use the water you will using to blanch the veggies in.
12 oz. fresh shelled peas
12 oz. of fresh shelled fava (or half a grocery bag full of the beans)
one bunch of asparagus
4 thick slices of prosciutto
small bunch fresh mint & parsley

Put artichokes into a pot of cold, salted water & bring to a boil. Boil for about 10 minutes or until tender (you can check by inserting a knife into the heart) and drain. (Tip: Jason puts a plate on top of the boiling water of artichokes so they don't pop out & stay under water!) Allow to cool, then peel off the outer leaves until you find the pale tender ones, remove the choke (fuzzy white parts) using a spoon. Cut the hearts into quarters.

Fill the pot with new water, add salt & bring to a boil. Blanch the fava beans for a minute, remove from water with a slotted spoon. Blanch the leeks for 3 -4 minutes, until tender, and the chard until just wilted.

Heat a large saucepan, big enough to hold all the ingredients, and add a good splash of oil. Cook the onion, low & slow for about 10 minutes until soft. Cut the tough parts of the asparagus off the bottom & discard, cut into quarter inch pieces. Saute for 2-3 minutes with onion.

Then add vegetable stock (the water used to blanch the fava, leeks & chard) and the peas, bring to a boil. Cut the prosciutto into bits & add in - simmer for about 10 minutes, until the peas are cooked and soft and the prosciutto has flavored it all nicely.

Chop leeks into strips, run a knife through the chard & stir into the pan. Add the artichoke hearts & fava beans and let simmer for a few minutes.

Finish with salt & pepper to taste a small bunch of chopped fresh mint & parsley. Add a few glugs of olive oil.

Toss with pasta & drizzle with a bit more olive oil for the bright flavors & colors of spring! Sprinkle with fresh grated parmesan or grana padano.

Note: You may need a few spoonfuls of pasta water if the dish looks too dry.

Ashley Bartner is the Living in Italy Editor for Wandering Educators.
La Tavola Marche Agriturismo & Cooking Holiday

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