We’re not asking you join a great crusade to stamp out decency in the West. (After all, some would say there’s nothing left to do.) We’re simply asking you to start celebrating your fresh green vegetables with this simple, light “stew.”
A while back, Michelle was hypnotized by some Whole Foods fava beans (a rarity in these parts), and found a recipe in Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse Vegetables for Fava Bean Ragout. Alice indicated it was “great with Potato Gnocchi,” which by happy coincidence Steve has finally figured out how to make. Michelle, spurred by some sprouting potatoes, urged Steve generate some gnocchi while she prepared the favas, garlic, herbs, lemon and olive oil. Steve’s soft, pillowy gnocchi (reportedly the envy of one Chef Bill) did pair quite well with the lovely light broth full of just-tender vegetables. Perhaps because we drastically cut back on the amount of olive oil called for in the original recipe, the vegetable flavors really step forward in version after version of this flexible dish, which most recently in Gourmandistan featured baby artichokes, peas, asparagus, green garlic and thyme.
We think this is a wonderful, reasonably hassle-free way to feature the fresh flavors of spring vegetables. Do yourself a favor and go to your local market. You’ll find fresh peas, favas or some other delight. Take them home. Make this sauce. You’ll probably start singing this before you’re finished.
SPRING VEGETABLE RAGOUT
(Inspired by Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse Vegetables, this is less a recipe than a loose guideline. Explore and enjoy!)
- Olive oil
- Baby artichokes, cleaned, sliced in half and held in a bowl of lemon water
- Sliced garlic or green garlic
- Leaves from several sprigs of thyme
- Water or stock
- Salt and pepper
- Spears and nice parts of asparagus stems, cut in approximately 2″ slices
- Peas or shelled fava beans
- Lemon juice
- Parmesan cheese shavings
Generously cover the bottom of a skillet or sauté pan with olive oil. When oil has heated, add drained artichokes, garlic and thyme and enough water or stock to barely cover. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for about 8 minutes. Add asparagus spears and peas or fava beans and simmer, covered, for about 5 minutes more. Pour lemon juice over and adjust seasoning if needed.
Serve over browned gnocchi with shavings of Parmesan cheese.