Braised Artichokes and Peas

Carciofi coi piselli (Braised Artichokes and Peas)

In contorno, Lazio, Spring by Frank12 Comments

Two iconic spring vegetables, artichokes and peas, are braised together with an onion flavor base to make this simple but tasty side dish. Often made with a bit of pancetta and broth, you can omit the pancetta and substitute water for broth to make a vegan version which, to my mind, is even nicer than the conventional one.

As I’ve said before, given the way produce is grown and sold in this country, frozen vegetables can be a valid, even better option than fresh in some cases. And no two vegetables are better examples of this than artichokes and peas. Fresh artichokes are frightfully expensive and, more often than not, come to the market already past their prime, with their leaves already opening up. Peas are rarely found fresh anyway, and when you do find them, they are often disappointingly mealy. The frozen versions of both these vegetables are not only convenient, their taste is practically unaltered by freezing. So, more often than not, I make this dish with frozen artichokes and peas, although I  substitute fresh for one or both when I’m lucky enough to find good-looking specimens in the market.

Ingredients

Serves 4-6 as a side dish

  • 250g (1/2 lb) sweet peas, fresh and shelled, or frozen and defrosted
  • 500g (1 lb) whole artichokes, trimmed, or 250g (1/2 lb) frozen artichoke wedges, defrosted
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • A few sprigs of parsley, finely chopped
  • 50g (2 oz) pancetta, chopped (optional)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Water or broth

Directions

If using fresh artichokes, trim them following the instructions found in this post, and cut them into wedges. Keep them immersed in a bowl of water acidulated with a few drops of lemon juice until you are ready to use them, then drain well. If using frozen, let them defrost entirely.

In a sauté pan or braiser large enough to hold all the vegetables, make a soffritto, or flavor base, by gently sautéing the chopped onion, parsley and, if using, pancetta in olive oil until the onion is soft and translucent, taking care that neither onion nor pancetta browns. Season the soffritto well as it cooks.

After the soffritto is done, the vegetables are added to the pan, along with a small glass of water or broth, covering and letting them braise until they are tender. If you are using fresh artichokes, this should take 10-15 minutes; frozen artichokes are already partially cooked and should only take about  5 minutes or so. Fresh peas also take about 10-15 minutes, depending on their actual freshness, while the frozen variety takes only 5 minutes at the most. Here is when I’d add the vegetables according to type:

  • If using fresh peas and fresh artichokes: Add the peas together with the artichokes and braise until both are tender, about 10-15 minutes.
  • If using fresh peas and frozen artichokes: Add the peas first, braise for 5 minutes, then add the artichokes and continue braising until both are tender.
  • If using frozen peas and fresh artichokes: Add the peas when the artichokes are almost tender, after 10 minutes or so.
  • If using frozen peas and frozen artichokes: Add them both together and braise until tender, about 5 minutes or so.

In any case, add more water or broth if you see things are drying out, and when the peas and artichokes are both tender, uncover the pan and, if there is still a lot of liquid, raise the heat to evaporate it quickly. Taste and adjust for seasoning. The finished dish should have just a bit of ‘sauce’ clinging to the vegetables.

Serve immediately. The dish can also be made ahead and reheated.

Braised Artichokes and Peas

 Notes on Braised Artichokes and Peas

You may notice that parsley plays a different role in this dish from the one you may be used to as garnish for color at the end, sprinkled on top of the finished dish. Here the parsley is added not for color but for flavor at the beginning, along with the onion, a very Italian technique. When using parsley like this for flavor, try to find the flat-leafed variety, which is much sweeter than the curly one.

If you want to stretch the recipe a bit, you can add some potato, peeled and cut up into cubes or wedges. Some recipes call for white wine instead of or in addition to the broth or water, which adds a touch of acidity. Though not really canonical, you can also add a dab of butter just before serving for extra flavor and a velvety mouth feel.

If you’d like a more elaborate spring vegetable dish, try la vignarola, which adds fava beans to the mix. It is substantial enough to eat as a separate course, either as an antipasto or a vegetable-based main course. 

Carciofi coi piselli (Braised Artichokes and Peas)

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: Serves 4-6 as a side dish

Carciofi coi piselli (Braised Artichokes and Peas)

Ingredients

  • 250g (1/2 lb) sweet peas, fresh and shelled, or frozen and defrosted
  • 500g (1 lb) whole artichokes, trimmed, or 250g (1/2 lb) frozen artichoke wedges, defrosted
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • A few sprigs of parsley, finely chopped
  • 50g (2 oz) pancetta, chopped (optional)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Water or broth

Instructions

  1. If using fresh artichokes, trim them following the instructions found in this post, and cut them into wedges. Keep them immersed in a bowl of water acidulated with a few drops of lemon juice until you are ready to use them, then drain well.
  2. In a sauté pan or braiser large enough to hold all the vegetables, make a soffritto, or flavor base, by gently sautéing the chopped onion, parsley and, if using, pancetta in olive oil until the onion is soft and translucent, taking care that neither onion nor pancetta browns. Season the soffritto well as it cooks.
  3. After the soffritto is done, the vegetables are added to the pan, along with a small glass of water or broth, covering and letting them braise until they are tender. If you are using fresh artichokes, this should take 10-15 minutes; frozen artichokes are already partially cooked and should only take about 5 minutes or so. Fresh peas also take about 10-15 minutes, depending on their actual freshness, while the frozen variety takes only 5 minutes at the most. Here is when I'd add the vegetables according to type:
  4. If using fresh peas and fresh artichokes: Add the peas together with the artichokes and braise until both are tender, about 10-15 minutes.
  5. If using fresh peas and frozen artichokes: Add the peas first, braise for 5 minutes, then add the artichokes and continue braising until both are tender.
  6. If using frozen peas and fresh artichokes: Add the peas when the artichokes are almost tender, after 10 minutes or so.
  7. If using frozen peas and frozen artichokes: Add them both together and braise until tender, about 5 minutes or so.
  8. In any case, add more water or broth if you see things are drying out, and when the peas and artichokes are both tender, uncover the pan and, if there is still a lot of liquid, raise the heat to evaporate it quickly. Taste and adjust for seasoning. The finished dish should have just a bit of 'sauce' clinging to the vegetables.
  9. Serve immediately. The dish can also be made ahead and reheated.
Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Yummly Rich Recipes
http://memoriediangelina.com/2015/04/24/carciofi-coi-piselli-braised-artichokes-and-peas/

Comments

  1. I believe that once you’ve tasted Italian artichokes, it’s hard to accept anything else, even for someone living in a place where farm-fresh artichokes are available. I have better luck with fresh peas. This is a great dish beautifully done.

  2. Frank – I’m in Rome right now and have had a daily artichoke fix since I arrived. I am pleasantly surprised when I buy the frozen ones in the states. It’s not like being in Rome, but it’s a decent substitute, especially when the fresh ones can be past their prime.

  3. Pingback: Carciofi coi piselli – Braised Artichokes and Peas – Lazio/Marche | Good Things From Italy

  4. I will be making this at the end of the week – with frozen artichoke hearts ands Minnesota fresh peas – which are starting to appear. I love artichokes and we get some at the end of summer – but they really need a longer growing season (I’ve tried to grow them). I actually like the idea of the broth and some small pieces of pancetta – or maybe it’s my addiction to salt. This recipe welcomes spring.

    1. Author

      And spring couldn’t be more welcome after this long, hard winter! Thanks for your comment, Claudia!

  5. You know, you are so right about frozen peas and artichokes, I always think of this dish (like vignarola) as being extremely seasonal but it really isn’t. I think I will be making this this week, thanks for the inspiration!

  6. This IS a perfect spring dish. As Romans, we adore artichokes but are perpetually disappointed at the varieties we are able to find fresh locally, especially this time of year when Rome is literally bursting with them. We love the idea of using frozen ones!

  7. un contorno buono e sano, facile da fare e gradito a tutti, cosa chiedere di più ?Buon fine settimana Frank !

  8. Frank- I am so glad that you brought up the use of frozen artichokes immediately!I was going to pass right by the recipe thinking there’s no way I would blow my money on a vegetable that is so expensive and so laborious to prepare. It’s only because it is one of your recipes that I read the whole thing first -and was so happily surprised that it uses frozen artichokes, which now makes this a dish I will certainly try out. It does look delicious! Thank you!

    1. Author

      Thanks for you comment, Dolores! Do let us know how you like the dish. 🙂

Leave a Comment