shelling peas

Greens of spring: scafata or vignarola?

Not so long ago, I posted a picture on my FB page of a springy vegetable stew , one that my mother used to make with the pickings of our vegetable garden every Easter. It showcases fava beans, artichokes, shelling peas, spring onions and baby chards or baby romaine lettuce at their peak. The choice between a) chards or b) romaines depends on your heart being rooted in Umbria or Tuscany-in which case you'd select option aand call it scafata, or your devotion to Rome steering you to option b-which would make the stew a vignarola.

I don't prefer one or the other version, as mom would make it according to market availability and whim, but I did have several requests for the recipe in the picture, so here it is.

Enjoy.


Scafata or Vignarola

Artichoke and spring greens stew

for 4 people:

1 lemon

4 medium sized artichokes

1 pound unshelled fava beans

1 pound shelling peas

2 spring onions

1 bunch of baby chards or 2 heads of baby romaine lettuce

1 sprig marjoram

2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

 

Cut the lemon in half and squeeze its juice into a bowl of cold water. Drop the squeezed half lemons in the bowl.

Clean the artichokes. Remove the outer tough bitter leaves until about 2/3 of the outer circle of leaves are a lighter, somewhat yellowish green.

Slice off the darker top tip of the leaves. Pare the outer part of the bottom and peel the stems. Finally, slice off a very thin layer from the bottom of the stem.

This procedure is called turning, as for each phase of it, your knife will circle around the artichoke.

Halve each turned artichoke and remove the hairy choke if necessary. Cut each half in half again.

As they are ready, drop the artichoke quarters in the lemon water to prevent them from browning.

Shell the fava beans and the peas.

Cut offthe green top of the onions then cut in 8 wedges if they have a roundish bulb or just slice lengthwise if they are the narrower kind.

Carefully rinse the chards to eliminate any grit or, if using baby romaines, cut in quarters and rinse well.

In a shallow sauce pot pour the oil, than arrange all the vegetable snugly. Season liberally with salt and pepper and top with the marjoram.

Cover the pot and place it on low heat. The vegetables will release much moisture in which the vegetables will gently braise.

Cook for 25 to 30 minutes, until everything is soft and well balanced. Adjust salt and pepper and enjoy at any temperature.

NOTES

  • Depending on the size of your artichokes you might have to cut them in 6 or 8 wedges or maybe just in half if smaller. If using baby artichokes you can leave them whole
  • The fava beans only need to come out of the pod, you do not have to peel every single bean
  • Spring onions are not to be confused with scallions, which are the very thin, available-year-round green onions. Spring onions are the young, firm fleshed, uncured, sweet tasting onions that are available in the very late winter and spring
  • To make this dish more substantial, you can render some cubed pancetta in the oil before adding the vegetables and serve the stew on thick slices of toasted country bread
  • The flavors in this dish make it a perfect complement to roasted lamb

Feeding the Revolution

Making cappuccino pork tenderloin with Valeria, Alexandra, Antonella and Barbara Didn't make the cut off age to march for women's rights and my last name put me squarely, though not ideologically, on the wrong side of the fence of labor movements. But finally my time has come to join the revolution. The great Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution Day.

Le Forchette Tricolori, a group of lively Italian women residing in the Bay Area who love to cook and be together and of which I am lucky to be one, are taking over the Italian Consulate (thank you Consul General Mauro Battocchi) and cooking up a storm for 50 lucky guests. You can find more details here.

The event's proceeds will be devolved to Food Revolution in support of Mr.Oliver's continuing efforts to "keep cooking skills alive". By the way, if you want to more know about the scope of the initiative, listen to Jamie's own words about Food Revolution Day.

 

Menu

 

 

This is the menu and the Forchettine (as we like to call ourselves), clad in aprons and armed with spoons, will "cook it, share it, live it" to change the world one forkful of great Italian food at a time.

 

 

Here is a sneak preview of  some of the deliciousness we will be offering. Tune in next week for more recipes and some gossip on the outcome of the evening.

Thank you to Jamie Oliver for the inspiration he gives daily to so many, I am proud to be part of your Revolution.

 

Sangria di Aperol e prosecco con ciliegie e gelsi~ Sparkling sangria with Aperol, cherries and mulberries

The drink that will set the lively mood of our Food Revolution

for 1 bottle of prosecco: 1/2 bunch mint1 cup cherries 2 ripe peaches 1 cup mulberries juice of 1 Meyer lemon 1/4 cup raw sugar 1/2 cup dry rum or other dry hard liquor 1 cup Aperol

Pick the leaves off the mint sprigs, stack them and roll them along the longer side. Cut them in very skinny ribbons with a very sharp knife.

Stone the cherries and peaches. Slice the peaches and combine them in a bowl with the mint, mulberries, lemon juice and sugar. Muddle using a pestle or the back of a wooden spoon, ensuring the sugar dissolves.

Cover with the rum and Aperol, mix well and let stand in the refrigerator for at least a couple of hours. This step can be done the previous evening.

Right before serving, add a few cubes of ice and slowly pour in the prosecco. Stir gently and serve.

NOTES:

  • Aperol, a light alcohol drink reminiscent of Campari can be substituted with Campari if unavailable. Remember to adjust sugar and lemon juice to balance the extra bitterness
  • Mulberries are not always easy to find. Though they have been all over farmers' markets here in NorCal, should they not be available where you are, swap them for blackberries

 

Bruschette di piselli alla menta ed aglietto con profumo di limone e ricotta salata Mint scented English peas and green garlic bruschetta with Meyer lemon and ricotta salata

for 6 people 2 pounds unshelled shelling, English or snap peas 1 or 2 green garlic stalks. 1 Meyer lemon 12 to 14 mint leaves 12 slices of bread extra virgin olive oil salt and pepper to taste 1/2 cup shredded ricotta salata

Shell the peas. Clean the garlic stalks. Zest the lemon and cut the naked fruit in wedges. Stack and roll half the mint along the longer side and slice into very thin ribbons. Mix the mint and zest.

Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil and drop the peas, all the green garlic except for 1 small piece and the remaining mint leaves in it. Cook until the peas are quite tender but still bright green, about 15 minutes.

In the meantime, brush the bread with olive oil and toast until crunchy outside but still soft in the middle. When ready, rub lightly with the saved garlic while still hot. Keep warm.

Drain the peas, mint and green garlic and blend into a smooth spread with a bit of olive oil. Adjust salt and pepper.

Spread over the toasted bread. Dust with the ricotta salata. Top with the mint and zest and finish by squeezing a few drops of lemon juice on each bruschetta.

 

Pescespada alla livornese Livorno style swordfish

This recipes appeared last month on this very blog. Click here for it.