This spring vegetable stew turns an array of irresistible early-season produce, including peas, asparagus, artichokes, greens, and fava beans, into a lovely—yet also healthy and vegetarian—supper.
Spring Vegetable Stew
- Quick Glance
- Quick Glance
- 45 M
- 1 H, 15 M
- Serves 4
If using fresh artichokes, trim the stalks and remove any tough outer leaves. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil and cook the artichokes until just tender, about 20 minutes. Drain well and when cool enough to handle, gently ease back the outer leaves and remove the central hairy choke with a teaspoon or melon baller. Cut in half or into quarters.
If using jarred artichokes, drain and gently pat them dry. Cut them into quarters.
If using fava beans, bring a small saucepan of water to a boil, add the fava beans, cover, and simmer gently until they are just tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and cool under running cold water. Use your fingers to gently squeeze the green beans out of their grey outer casings.
In a large deep skillet over low heat, warm the oil. Stir in the onion and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not colored, 6 to 8 minutes.
Add the scallions and asparagus and cook gently for 3 minutes, turning them occasionally.
Pour in the vegetable broth and increase the heat to medium-high. When the broth starts to boil, add the peas, reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook for 10 minutes.
Add the fava beans, if using, artichoke hearts, and spinach or Swiss chard. Cook gently until all the vegetables are tender but still a lovely fresh green, 5 to 8 minutes.
Stir in the lemon juice and mint, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve in shallow bowls with a drizzle of olive oil. Scatter with cheese, if using.
HOW TO GLAM UP THIS SPRING VEGETABLE STEW DURING ANY SEASON
Depending on what’s in season, you can add baby zucchini and carrots, shallots, quartered heads of omaine lettuce, even chopped parsley, dill,or basil. If you’d like to make the stew heartier, stir in some cooked pasta or a swirl of pesto before serving.
Recipe Testers' Tips
This is a terrific spring medley. The sauce is light, delicious, bright, and pretty. We are inspired by the many variations suggested and will certainly make this again. If you have artichokes in the pantry and peas in the freezer, then really you can add whichever fresh vegetables you have on hand.
Since we used artichokes from a jar and we did not include fava beans, this came together very quickly, with the total cooking and hands-on time about 30 minutes.
We used one asparagus, frozen peas, fresh spinach, juice of 1/2 lemon (scant 1 tablespoon), and just a sprinkle of mint served on linguine and topped with grated Parmesan.
Enjoy this light and refreshing stew as a first course as is or add some pasta and have a very delicious main. This is an excellent recipe made special by the broth, lemon juice, and mint. Substitute vegetables as the season dictates. Simplify by using frozen or jarred artichokes as this is the most time-consuming portion of the recipe. This will definitely make my spring recipe rotation!
I used Lima in place of fava (5 min boil), Bulgarian feta, and Swiss chard.
Funny thing about making spring vegetable stew on the East Coast in winter is that the spring-style veggies aren't really, well, quite ready. The spring onions I found weren't fat, the asparagus were less than pencil thin, and in contrast to that, the artichokes were jumbo! Despite these culinary quirks, I made it through this recipe with a few slight changes.
Since the artichokes were jumbo I used 3 total. After steaming and trimming, it became clear that these overwintered artichokes had gone bad. All of them. Brown in the center with little if any edible artichoke core. Plan B was a can of quartered artichokes, in water, I had on hand.
I chose not to use fava beans as they aren’t my favorite, so continued on to softening the onion and garlic. I seasoned here as well with salt. All went well and timing was perfect. Next I used far more asparagus than 12 as they were miniature. About 3 times as many. Really, these things were so young I was feeling a bit bad they were taken so soon. But I forged ahead and cut them to 2-inch lengths, halved the regular-size scallions, and added them to the pan. The asparagus turned positively brilliant green!
The brilliant green color of asparagus and peas was so appealing in this dish.
The lemon juice along with the mint brightened up the finished dish. I chose Romano cheese for my garnish and it didn’t disappoint.
A few things to make the dish more appealing to eat. I would cut the scallions to the same size as the asparagus. I would season with salt at each step. I added 3 good pinches of salt at the end of the cooking process, when all of the vegetables were in the pan.
I didn't add pasta or pesto to my finished dish, but I will when I make this again! Such a smart, delicious, convenient way to use spring vegetables and highlight their goodness.
This combination of spring vegetables is a satisfying dish, easily a complete meal. There are a couple of prep items that can be done ahead, but this will still take a bit more time than you might want to spend on a busy weeknight. Come spring, I enjoy sitting outside and shelling favas and peas, and those items can be done even the night before. Depending on how early your favas are, it may take quite a large amount of whole pods to yield your 1 cup (I had 800g before shelling and got a scant 122g cup of smallish beans from the first favas I have spotted in the market). I had to settle for frozen peas, but bought the nicest ones I could find, nice large ones.
The most tricky thing is finding tiny enough artichokes. If you live near where artichokes are growing, you can often find tiny ones in bags of 10 or 20 for just a few dollars, but if you look in a grocery store you are more likely to see medium or large ones only. I picked the smallest I could of the “medium” frost-kissed ones (early season, and the outer leaves get trimmed away so the frost blemishes are left to the compost), and trimmed away the outer leaves until only pale green more tender leaves remained, and I sliced off the top, tus removing any leaves that were prickly at the top, peeling the trimmed stem. Since mine were a bit larger than I hoped for, I quartered them using a melon ball tool to remove the fuzzy choke. Although the stems seemed tender after 10 minutes, I really should have cooked them at least twice that long, as the leaves really were not tender enough in the end. This might argue to use good-quality baby artichokes in oil so as to not disappoint, because the combination of these vegetables is so nice. Trying to give my artichokes a little extra care, I added them back in a little earlier and added an extra 5 to 6 ounces of vegetable stock as well as putting a lid on the dutch oven.
You can use the same salted water from the artichokes for the favas (and do so while the artichokes are cooling enough to handle and finish removing he fuzzy center. I reserved that water for a small amount of farfelle (bow ties). We served with shavings of Kefalotyri, which had the right mild saltiness without being overpowering.
This is a generous recipe and while it was a pretty bright green the first night, it had faded a bit when I reheated it the next day for lunch, but it as still delicious. My only disappointment was apologizing for the artichokes because they needed to be eaten leaf by leaf, with some fibrous bits to discard.