June 18, 2019 — Family Food
I’ve always been intrigued by the Italian stew made of podded spring vegetables and small artichokes. It’s known as frittella or fritteda in Sicily and vignarola in Rome, and is know as vignole in other regions. My main interest is the artichokes, which I never tire of eating. However, many people may not like the idea of a stew of vegetables.
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160g polenta (not instant)
1 litre water + 1/2 tsp salt
300g fresh asparagus
5 small globe artichokes or 10 small violetta type artichokes
800g fresh broad beans in pods
500g fresh peas in pods
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic
80ml light olive oil
150ml white wine
250ml chicken or vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
Small sprig thyme
Small bunch of mint or basil
Good olive oil for drizzling
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In Italy it is eaten in a bowl with a spoon – and often overcooked so the flavours and textures meld into a distinctive earthy, mineral and possibly sulphurous melange. It perhaps makes more sense for our palates to use a well-cooked stew in pasta, but it would be a shame not to convey some semblance to the authentic version – so I have cooked my vegetables ‘tender but firm’ and arranged over grilled polenta.
My version includes asparagus, which shares the sweet earthy taste of main ingredients. In some versions the vegetables are deliberately overcooked. However, here they are cooked till tender and arranged over grilled polenta.
Many – or indeed, most – recipes call for mint. It is no doubt a flavour that is well matched with these vegetables, it give the dish an immediate and striking distinctive ‘spring’ freshness. On the other hand, it can also give the dish an everlasting lick of menthol which can dominate the other flavours, and last long in the mouth. Use sparingly, or alternatively use basil, which also lends a spring-like freshness to the dish and a definite Italian note. (I also intended to use the same vinarola in pasta – so the basil is a better match). Other, recipes add a little vinegar at the end, which can give it a little piquancy for eating as an antipasti.
If the recipe appear long, don’t be dismayed, it really is fairly straight forward – a simple stew of spring vegetables. Let your instincts guide you…
Check out some of Dad’s other asparagus recipes here.
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Try Dad’s loaded low-fat salsa quesadillas with The Laughing Cow Lightest x8 cheese.
An excellent way to turn a popular Italian slow food standard into an easy and quicker family classic.
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