Leap into Spring and make the most of seasonal vegetables with this vibrant recipe from Olivia Cavalli’s Stagioni.
Hailing from central Italy, vignarola is a tumble of Spring vegetables, braised in wine and olive oil, until just tender. It’s a delicate dish of fresh and distinct flavours, each sitting happily alongside the other, mingling in the best way possible. Serve as a starter with whipped ricotta, or eat as a side with white fish, roast chicken or lamb.
SERVES 4 as a starter or side dish
2–3 large artichokes
50g/1¾oz pancetta, finely chopped (optional)
120g/4¼oz spring onions 80ml/2½fl oz extra virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
200ml/7fl oz white wine
120g/4¼oz shelled peas (about 380g/13oz in their pods)
180g/6oz broad beans (about 600g/1lb 5oz in their pods, or 120g/4¼oz after double podding)
80g/2¾oz Romaine lettuce finely shredded
Leaves from 2 leafy mint sprigs
500g/1lb 2oz whole milk ricotta
Fine salt and
Freshly ground black pepper
Zest the lemon into a bowl and set aside. Fill a large bowl with water. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice of half into the water, dropping its shell in too. Prepare the artichokes (see page 21), rubbing them with the cut side of the other lemon half as you go and dropping the prepared hearts into the water. Leave them there for the moment.
If using pancetta, fry it in a large sauté pan until it has released its fat and turned crispy. Transfer to a bowl.
Trim the root off the spring onions and slice them finely. Put them in the pancetta pan with the oil and ¼ tsp salt and set over a medium heat. Cook for 5–10 minutes, until soft and glistening. Drain the artichoke hearts, slice each into 8 and add to the pan. Pour in the wine, pop the lid on and let them braise for 15 minutes. Remove the lid and add the peas, broad beans and lettuce, then return the pancetta. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 4–5 minutes, until the lettuce has wilted, the peas are just cooked and everything is bright green. You may need another minute or so depending on how big your peas are.
Slice the mint leaves finely and scatter them over everything in the pan. Turn the heat off and let sit for 10 minutes. Add salt to taste.
Whip the ricotta, using a balloon whisk, until silky-smooth. Dollop it on a serving platter, smoothing it out with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle with the lemon zest and add a few grindings of black pepper. Spoon the vignarola over the top and serve with crusty bread to mop up the juices.
Order Stagioni by Olivia Cavalli here.
Hungry for more? Take a look at this tasty Mimosa Cake, also from Stagioni.