Each year, when winter slips away – and along with it the countless root vegetables and Brussels sprouts and other winter veg that I grow weary of by the time spring rolls around – I get a bit giddy with excitement. Sweet, tender springtime vegetables are welcomed with open arms in my kitchen. Baby peas and fava beans, thin spears of grassy asparagus, tiny carrots, and fragrant green garlic make me swoon. I love them simply blanched or smashed onto crostini, or slowly simmered in a simple yet elegant ragout.
This is an excellent vegetarian main course: light, fresh and lemony, but with a hint of buttery richness. You can make it heartier by serving it over creamy polenta, tossing it with fresh ribbons of pasta, or topping each portion with a warm, runny poached egg. Easily make it vegan by using margarine or omitting the butter and simmering the vegetables in a little olive oil and wine.
Choose the best, young spring vegetables you can find, ideally from the farmers’ market. If you like, add 3/4 cup shelled, peeled fresh fava beans (1 lb in pod) to the ragout when you add the peas.
Recipe: Springtime Vegetable Ragout with Asparagus, New Potatoes, Baby Carrots, Fennel, Fresh Peas, and Herbs
Makes 4 to 6 servings
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/2 lb baby red potatoes or baby fingerlings, sliced about 1/4-inch thick
- Kosher salt
- 1 bunch baby carrots, trimmed and peeled, halved if large
- 1 fennel bulb, trimmed, quartered, cored and thinly sliced
- 1 stalk green garlic, finely chopped, white and tender green parts only, or 2 cloves regular garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
- Zest and juice of 1 Meyer or regular lemon
- 1 cup shelled peas (1 lb in pod)
- 1 bunch thin to medium asparagus (1/2 lb), ends snapped off, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
- 1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley
- In a deep sauté pan over medium heat, melt half the butter. Add the potatoes and a pinch of salt. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Add the carrots, fennel, and green garlic or garlic, stir to combine, cover and continue to cook for about 8 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.