A real hymn to Spring, Vignarola is a simple recipe from the rural tradition. Born as a humble dish, it is based on the seasonal ingredients of the Roman countryside.
This recipe was presumably born around Velletri, a town in the Castelli Romani area, known for its extensive vineyards. On their way back home, the local winegrowers used to prepare this course with freshly picked vegetables: artichokes, broad beans, peas, romaine lettuce, and fresh spring onion.
According to another tradition, the recipe takes its name from the vignaroli, a Roman term for the vegetable growers who prepared it with their daily sale leftovers.
A soup, an appetizer, a second course (vegetarian or not, depending on the use of the bacon or cheek lard), or a sauce for pasta or risotto, the Vignarola is unquestionably a delicious and nutritious dish, excellent to be eaten the following day.
Lacking a historical recipe, the traditional preparation hands down from generation to generation. In addition to the spring first fruits, a typical Vignarola provides for some ingredients such as Roman mint. If you want to make the dish tastier, add a final sprinkling of Roman pecorino cheese.
Here is the Gambero Rosso recipe:
Ingredients for 4 people:
2 Roman artichokes (mammole) or 4 of a smaller variety
600 g peas gross weight
600 g fresh fava beans (gross weight)
1 small head of romaine lettuce of about 200 g
2 fresh spring onions
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
50 g of stretched bacon (or cheek lard) in a single slice
Salt and pepper
Clean the artichokes by discarding the outer leaves, the tip, and the hard rind of the bottom. Divide them in two, remove any internal hay, and cut them into wedges, letting them fall in water acidulated with lemon juice.
Shell the peas and broad beans. Wash the lettuce and slice it coarsely. Heat the oil in a pan and brown the thinly sliced spring onions together with the bacon cut into small cubes.
When the onion has become transparent, pour the artichokes, peas, and broad beans into the pan, mix, and flavor with salt and pepper. Then cover and cook gently for about ten minutes.
At this point, add the lettuce and continue cooking, always on a low heat for another quarter of an hour, until the vegetables are tender but not overcooked.
Do not add water: the vegetables will only cook with their water. Serve Vignarola, hot or warm, as a second course or, in smaller portions, as an appetizer.