This week, with Spring in full bloom and many delicious edibles ripe for the picking in the garden, I’m happy to share with you a delightful dish for enjoying your bountiful Spring harvest— a simple and pleasing main dish: the ragout. The word ragout is a french culinary term that refers to a stew, typically served as a main dish, and not to be confused with Italian word of the same pronunciation, ragu, which means sauce. Don’t be scared away by the idea of stew, which connotes a lethargic, hot, gut-filling, potato-based meal. This Spring Ragout is neither dense, nor heavy, and yet, served on a scoop of fresh pasta or polenta, or enjoyed au naturale, makes for a perfectly filling meal.
This particular recipe features one of my favorites, a relatively lesser-known legume— the fava bean. A spring-time stand-out, the fava bean is also known as a broad bean, horse bean, English bean, and pigeon bean, and has been nourishing cultures around the planet for centuries. Favas on the vine look like enormous string beans— lumpy, oversize fairy-tale pods— and harbor a meaty, nutty delicious bean. While there is a bit of handy work required to shell fresh favas, it’s absolutely worth it. The good news is that favas are very easy to grow— you’ll spend less time shelling your home-grown favas than driving around town trying to find a store that sells them fresh. And even better, Botanical Interests offers a beautiful heirloom fava plant that produces the most succulent favas you can imagine.
In addition to the fava bean, this easy-to-prepare ragout features fresh peas and asparagus— an all-star line up that is always a crowd-pleaser. Of course, if your garden is producing other fine Spring vegetables, feel free to make some substitutions.
Spring Garden Ragout with Lemon Cream
- 20 to 30 fresh fava been pods
- 1 bunch asparagus (this stalks are preferred)
- 1 cup fresh peas, shelled
- extra virgin olive oil
- zest of two lemons
- 1/8 cup cream
- sea salt
To prepare fava beans:
- Open pods and remove fava beans
- Cook beans in a pan of boiling, salted water for about a minute.
- Drain, and run under cold water for 30 seconds to stop the cooking
- Remove the shell by gently pinching each fava to squeeze it out of its shell
To make Ragout:
- Heat saute pan to medium-high and add 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Add the asparagus and a generous pinch of salt to hot oil.
- Cover and cook for 30-45 seconds until asparagus is barely tender and bright green. (Thicker asparagus will take longer)
- Stir in the favas and peas and cook uncovered for another 30 to 40 seconds
- Remove from heat and stir in lemon zest and cream
- Add salt to taste