Stufato di Fave, Carciofi, e Lattuga Romana

Braised Favas, Artichokes, and Lettuce

This classic spring vegetable ragout is from La cucina livornese. It is another gem from the repertoire of Emma Belforte, whose palate I obviously share, although we may differ on cooking times. The dish is often served at Passover, the ultimate Jewish rite of spring. I’ve suggested the contemporary garnish of gremolata, a mixture of lemon zest, garlic, parsley, or, in this case, basil, to bring lightness and sparkle.

Ingredients

  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 6 large artichokes
  • 2 pounds fava beans, shelled (about 1 generous cup)
  • 2 small heads romaine or butter lettuce
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, or as needed
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ½ cup water or vegetable broth, or as needed

Gremolata

  • Grated zest of 2 lemons
  • 6 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or basil
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced garlic

Method

Have ready a large bowl of water to which you have added the lemon juice. Working with 1 artichoke at a time, cut off the stem even with the base. Remove all the tough outer leaves until you reach the pale green heart. Pare away the dark green area from the base. Cut the artichoke in half lengthwise and scoop out and discard the choke from each half. Drop the heart into the lemon water to prevent discoloration.

Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil, add the favas, and blanch for 30 seconds. Drain and, when cool enough to handle, slip off the thin skin covering each bean. Core the lettuces and slice the leaves crosswise into ½-inch-wide strips. Drain the artichoke hearts, pat dry, and cut into quarters, eighths, or thick slices.

Warm the 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a large, deep sauté pan over low heat. Add the artichokes and sauté, stirring often, for about 5 minutes. Add the favas, lettuces, parsley, basil, salt, pepper, and enough water or vegetable broth to cover barely. Raise the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the artichokes are cooked through and most of the water has evaporated, 10 to 15 minutes. In the meantime, combine the gremolata ingredients.

Remove the artichoke mixture from the heat, sprinkle with the gremolata, and stir well. Let rest for 5 minutes—enough time for the garlic in the gremolata to soften—then serve.