Vignole: An Italian melange of spring vegetables
Vignole is served as it is – or as a bruschetta. I have adapted it into a pasta sauce – though it is more like a stew with large pasta shapes. It should always include small artichokes, peas, and broad beans – but can happily take other seasonal spring vegetables. It is usually seasoned with parsley and basil – though in Sicily mint is used. This is the type of recipe, like caponata, that is so evocative for a keen cook, eager to learn new ideas about Italian food. It just feels authentic. Just the kind of rustic cooking traditions the River Cafe loves to explore and recreate – indeed, vingnole is one of their most popular starters. Giorgio Locatelli, tells fond stories eating this dish as a child. His grandmother, would cook it for his family when the new spring vegetables were harvested.
Vignole brings together two of my favourite earthy and mineral flavours – artichokes and broad beans. The recipe is simple and intuitive, requiring the cooking of all the elements to their individual level of tenderness. Locatelli’s grandmother stews the ingredients together and adds parmesan to finish. The River Café uses prosciutto both in the long cooking of the peas and as a garnish. I use the Hart’s confit method of cooking artichokes from ‘Modern Spanish Cooking’ (confit is a method for artichokes I have not come across – it works). I make a mix of herbs combining basil and parsley, and just a little mint.