Sicilian Spring Vegetable Stew

In Sicily, this well-cooked braise of artichokes, fava beans and peas is sometimes used as a pasta sauce. Consider making a double batch so you have enough to toss with spaghetti the following today. From Eating Local by Janet Fletcher (Andrews McMeel).

  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 16 to 20 baby artichokes, about 1-1/2 ounces each
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion or spring onion, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds fava beans, shelled but not peeled
  • 1 pound English peas, shelled
  • 1/4 cup torn fresh basil leaves

Fill a large bowl with cold water and add the juice of 1/2 lemon. To trim the baby artichokes, peel back the tough outer leaves until they break at the base. Keep removing leaves until you reach the paler yellow-green inner leaves, which are more tender. Cut across the top of this artichoke “heart” to remove the sharp leaf tips. If the stem is still attached, trim it down to 1/2 inch, then pare the stem and base with a small knife, removing any dark green or brown parts. Cut each heart into 6 wedges and place immediately in the lemon water to prevent browning.

Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over moderately low heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and hot pepper flakes and sauté 1 minute to release the garlic fragrance. Drain the artichokes and add them to the skillet. Season with salt and pepper and add 1 cup water. Bring to a simmer, cover, and adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook 10 minutes, then add the fava beans, the peas and 1/2 cup water. Cover and simmer until all the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add a little more water if needed to keep the mixture from cooking dry. 

Stir in the basil and season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat. Let rest about 15 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld. Serve warm, not hot.

Serves 4