This dish is a great way to incorporate all the fresh vegetables of spring. It's roots are Roman as they called it vignarola or vignole but it is found all over Le Marche!
A versatile dish that you can make as a primi - pasta dish or as a stew/soup by adding more vegetable stock.
It is so simple, Jason has made this for many dinners this spring as his "go to" pasta - everyone has loved it! (One group of Italians even asked to take the rest home with them!) The longest part is the shelling of all the fava. (For the vegetarians out there, sadly, just omit the prosciutto)
Please, please use fresh pasta in this dish - it will make it much softer & worth the effort or cost. We used Spaghetti alla Chitarra a local pasta, but you probably won't find that in the States, so try regular spaghetti, linguini or fettucini.
Pasta with Spring Veggies (Spaghetti alla Chitarra con verdure di primavera)
12-16 oz. of fresh pasta
4-5 small artichokes
sea salt & pepper
1 leek, outer leaves removed, cut into 3-inch lengths, washed
1/2 lb. chard (or other nice leafy greens)
extra virgin olive oil
1 small white onion, chopped
3/4 cup of vegetable stock (add another 3/4 cup if you are making into a stew) - use the water you will using to blanch the veggies in.
12 oz. fresh shelled peas
12 oz. of fresh shelled fava (or half a grocery bag full of the beans)
one bunch of asparagus
4 thick slices of prosciutto
small bunch fresh mint & parsley (we have both growing wild)
Put artichokes into a pot of cold, salted water & bring to a boil. Boil for about 10 minutes or until tender (you can check by inserting a knife into the heart) and drain. (Tip: Jason puts a plate on top of the boiling water of artichokes so they don't pop out & stay under water!) Allow to cool, then peel off the outer leaves until you find the pale tender ones, remove the choke (fuzzy white parts) using a spoon. Cut the hearts into quarters.
Fill the pot with new water, add salt & bring to a boil. Blanch the fava beans for a minute, remove from water with a slotted spoon. Blanch the leeks for 3 -4 minutes, until tender, and the chard until just wilted.
Heat a large saucepan, big enough to hold all the ingredients, and add a good splash of oil. Cook the onion, low & slow for about 10 minutes until soft. Cut the tough parts of the asparagus off the bottom & discard, cut into quarter inch pieces. Sauté for 2-3 minutes with onion. Then add the vegetable stock (the water used to blanch the fava, leeks & chard) and the peas, bring to a boil. Cut the prosciutto into bits & add in - simmer for about 10 minutes, until the peas are cooked and soft and the prosciutto has flavored it all nicely.
Chop leeks into strips, run a knife through the chard & stir into the pan. Add the artichoke hearts & fava beans and let simmer for a few minutes. Finish with salt & pepper to taste a small bunch of chopped fresh mint & parsley. Add a few glugs of olive oil.
Toss with pasta & drizzle with a bit more olive oil for the bright flavors & colors of spring! Sprinkle with fresh grated parmesan or grana padano.
Note: you may need a few spoonfuls of pasta water if the dish looks too dry.