Vignarola from Rome
Have you ever heard of “vignarola”? I bet you haven’t because it’s a very traditional recipe from Rome, hard to find anywhere else and seasonal. It is prepared in spring, and precisely in May, using four of the most popular products ever: fava beans, peas, guanciale, and artichokes. It falls between those classic and traditional recipes that are gradually disappearing and that fewer and fewer restaurants prepare, leaving its glory to those who decide to pay homage to the tradition in a simple but effective way.
The original recipe of the vignarola lends itself, like all traditional recipes, to interpretations of different types and also to different types of execution: we know that guanciale, fava beans, peas and Roman artichokes are the inevitable ingredients. This is because the vignarola is born as a poor dish that brings together seasonal vegetables gathered in the vegetable garden by the vignaroli (the farmers) according to an interpretation and by the greengrocers of the markets according to another interpretation.
If you have a look at it well, and if you taste it, you’ll easily notice that it has the shape and substance of a vegetable stew and it is this what differentiates the vignarola from the gramugia, the version too often considered equivalent but prepared in Tuscany which is more similar to a broth.
Among the few rules to remember when preparing the vignarola there is one which is simply essential: the vegetables must be cooked together and not separately. This will allow the various flavors to intertwine perfectly, and this can not happen if we cook the vegetables separately and mix them only at the end.
Ingredients for 4 people
- 500 grams of fresh peas (net weight after having shelled them)
- 500 grams of fresh fava beans (net weight after having shelled them)
- 500 grams of artichokes (net weight after husking)
- 1 head of Roman lettuce
- 2 spring onions
- 100 grams of guanciale (or bacon)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Vegetable Broth
- Roman mint
- Pecorino romano cheese
- Shell fava beans and peas and put everything aside, inside two separate bowls.
- Clean the artichokes by removing the outer leaves, the upper part, and the heart. Place the artichokes in a bowl with water and lemon so they won’t turn black.
- Clean the lettuce and cut it into fairly wide strips. Chop the onions after having removed the green part.
- Cut the bacon into cubes or strips without removing the rind and set it aside.
- Pour a little oil into a fairly large, high and non-stick pan and, when it is hot, add the bacon and let it cook until it becomes transparent.
- Add the spring onions and let them brown over low heat.
- Add the artichokes and brown them for a few minutes then add the fava beans and the peas, salt lightly (to taste, considering that the bacon is salty), mix and pour two ladles of hot vegetable stock.
- Allow simmering over medium-low heat until the vegetables are cooked al dente adding more hot broth if necessary.
- When cooked, ie when fava beans, peas, and artichokes are cooked al dente, add the lettuce and cook for a few minutes.
- Serve the vignarola lukewarm by adding the Roman mint at the end or directly in the plates. The addition of pecorino romano is optional but highly recommended.
Preparation time: 40 minutes