Do do this ragout that we do so well.

Spring vegetable ragout with gnocchi

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.

Spring vegetable ragout

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.


(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.



  1. With our markets brimming with baby artichokes and asparagus, I’ve been making a similar (much simpler) preparation and serving it over pasta. Never would have thought to include broad beans and serve the ragout with gnocchi. Zia and I were to make gnocchi during my upcoming visit. Now if I can find some fave …
    Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. Martha

    Going to visit the Amish community in Crittenden County later this week in search of strawberries. Maybe they will have some goodies for this dish as well.

    • You are so welcome. It’s definitely become a keeper here. I keep trying to think of other combinations that would work. The possibilities are endless!

  3. This looks gorgeous! Love the simple, clean flavours of spring and the bright greens! I feel healthy just looking at this haha. Good one, definitely going to do this, plus minus a few bits and pieces from what I can get at my local farmer’s market!

    • I’m sure you will soon! And you have the advantage of seeing what everybody else does with the vegetables in advance of your season. Every year, I see things in the Times, etc. just as our season for whatever it is is ending and am left saying oh, ramps/green garlic/peas/fill in the blank, I wish I still had some…

  4. That is the prettiest ragout. Though spring produce needs no help being photogenic and I can’t get enough of it right now. I think gnocchi is the perfect pairing — ricotta gnocchi might be nice too.

  5. Jealous! I’ve been looking everywhere for favas (I don’t know why I continue to think that someone else will have a plant with beans when mine are only 3 inches tall…). I can’t wait for them to show up so I can make delicious fresh things like this!

    • I have found them once. Once! At Whole Foods. And maybe once years ago at the farmers’ market. But I keep looking. We’re going to get our garden going again next year, and I am definitely going to try to grow them. In the meantime, I’ll just have to live with peas.

  6. Well, this just looks delicious. I have never tried fava beans, but we may just have to make the hour trip down to the flatlands and drop by Whole Foods to see if we can find some.

  7. I love fava beans! But it just kills me how expensive they are here. A pound basically nets you almost nothing once you shell them and remove that outer covering from the beans themselves. In France, they are so damn cheap. So not fair!

    Thankfully, this recipe looks super versatile. Now that I have time again, I look forward to taking advantage of what’s left of spring’s produce!

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