Fava Beans with Artichokes, Asparagus, and Peas
Why This Recipe Works
Italian vignole is a vibrant braise that highlights the best of spring produce. Since fresh fava beans are traditional, we started there. The favas are usually eaten skin on, but tasters found their fibrous skins tough and unpleasant. We were happy to find that we could tenderize the skins by blanching the beans in a baking soda solution. After testing various ratios of water to baking soda, we landed on 2 cups of water and a teaspoon of baking soda; this resulted in nicely tender beans without any bitter, soapy aftertaste. However, the baking soda solution had one drawback: The high pH of the water caused the favas to slowly turn purple during cooking—and they continued to change color after draining. We found that the most effective way to counteract this was to simply rinse them thoroughly after cooking. With our skin-on favas perfected, we turned to the remaining vegetables. Sweet peas, savory baby artichokes, and grassy asparagus added layers of springtime flavor. A speedy stovetop braise was the ideal method for cooking each vegetable perfectly; we added the artichokes first to allow them time to cook almost all the way through before adding the more delicate asparagus and peas, and finally the favas to warm through. We finished the dish with fresh herbs andlemon zest to reinforce the lively flavor profile.