La Vignarola

Nothing celebrates Spring vegetables in Rome better than this wonderfully versatile Roman dish. Although we are now definitely enjoying hot summer temps, I have been making this since Spring started.  I have only been making Vignarola since I moved to Rome, but it has quickly become one of my favourite (super easy) tasty go to dishes.  I remember when I was little my father would bring home broad beans from my Nonno’s vegetable garden.  My sister and brothers would groan at the thought at having to eat them.  I smile when I remember this as I absolutely love them now.

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La Vignarola

  • 2 large red onions
  • 150g pancetta
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 125ml white wine
  • 300g fresh peas
  • 300g broad beans
  • 5 artichokes
  • vegetable stock
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 Romaine (Cos) lettuce roughly chopped
  • pecorino romano (to serve)
  1. Prepare vegetables: Shell peas, shell and peel beans and chop onions.  Peel outer leaves from artichokes to reveal the soft inner parts.  Remove the stalks, and cut artichokes into 4.  Soak artichokes in water with lemon juice until you are ready to use them.
  2. While you can use a store bought vegetable stock (I often do), you can also make your own using the skins from the peeled beans, a carrot, a couple of celery sticks, and the artichoke stalks.
  3. Using a heavy based pan, add pancetta and allow to cook until golden.  Add a generous splash of olive oil and add the chopped onions to the pan. Allow the onions to cook until they are transparent, and add the white wine.
  4. Add the artichokes, cover and allow to cook for 10 minutes.
  5. Remove lid and add a ladel of vegetable stock, and a pinch of salt.
  6. Add peas and beans, and another ladel of vegetable stock.
  7. Allow to cook for a further 15 minutes.
  8. Add lettuce to pan, add salt and pepper, and add another ladel of vegetable stock.  Cover pan and allow to cook over low heat for 5 minutes.
  9. Turn off heat and allow to rest for about an hour before serving warm.  Allowing it to rest also allows the flavours to combine better.
  10. Serve with freshly grated pecorino cheese and black pepper.

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Eat it as is, serve it on a crusty piece of bruschetta, or stir it through pasta.  However you decide to eat Vignarola, I promise you won’t be dissapointed. It might also be the dish that convices your children that eating their greens can actually be delicious!

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*Many recipes use spring onions, but when I bought the ingredients to make this, I was in Rome’s famous market, Campo dei Fiori and I asked the lady selling me the vegies how she makes vignarola.  This is one of the things I love about shopping at the markets in Italy, that I can ask for advice or even recipes, and both men and women are only too happy to share their cooking tips.  If you are rubbing elbows with fellow shoppers, usually they all chime in and the discussion can get quite heated as each defends their methods and family recipes. Anyway back to the onions, my fruit & vegie lady suggested I use red onions as they would be sweeter and marry better with the pancetta.  I couldn’t help but agree with her because I love the sweetness of caramelised red onion paired with the saltiness of pancetta.

*Vignarola can also be made with frozen peas, beans and artichokes if you wish to make this out of season.

*Make it a vegetarian dish eliminating the pancetta.