Vignarola

Vignarola: the Roman cuisine recipe that speaks of spring

Vignarola is a Roman cuisine recipe. It is extremely tasty and, at the same time, it is easy to prepare.

The recipe calls for the use of seasonal vegetables that enrich it with traditional flavors.

Peas, broad beans and artichokes are the masters of this tasty and healthy dish.

Let’s find out more about Vignarola, the spring made recipe.

 

Vignarola: a bit of history

 

The name “vignarola” tells about the bucolic setting in which this dish was born.

In fact, vignarola was the Roman term which identified the Ortolana (the female greengrocer) who came to Rome from neighboring countries to sell the products from their garden to the market.

The origins are uncertain but most likely they are located in the area of Velletri. The winemakers prepared this dish with the vegetables harvested in their own vegetable gardens, when they came from the vineyards. Vegetables such as fava beans and peas, in fact, were planted along the rows of vineyards in order to be harvested just after the first blossoming.

The dish combined the firstlings, the broad beans and the peas, with vegetables such as artichokes, the Roman mammola, which were finishing their season. This dish marks the passing seasons, from winter to spring.

Some people consider it a soup and therefore they keep it more liquid, meanwhile others serve it as an appetizer, as a condiment for first courses or risotto or as a second course.

Vignarola was not mentioned in historical gastronomy texts such as Ada Boni‘s “La Cucina Romana” (Roman cuisine) of 1929 or “La Cucina Rustica Tradizionale” (Traditional Rustic Cuisine) by Luigi Carnacina and Luigi Veronelli in 1974. Grandparents and grandmothers, as well as Roman hosts, handed down the Vignarola recipe to the present day. 

This is in fact the reason why there are countless versions of it.

In one of the tastiest one pancetta (bacon) is added, which enriches the flavor of the vegetables. In others there is the mint, known as mentuccia, that is perfect with artichokes, as we have already seen in the article about the Roman artichokes

However, the Vignarola is a healthy dish. It composed by legumes, having low fat and diuretic properties, but it is even full of minerals and vitamins A and C, calcium and potassium

 

Vignarola: a bit of poetry 

In the book “A passo de cucina” (At Kitchen step), Marco Loria dedicates a poem to Vignarola, La Vignarola Verde. The rhyming recipe tells the Roman art of arranging and our popular traditions.

 

La Vignarola Verde 

La vòja te comincia già ar mercato, 

che, quanno in primavera è colorato, 

te compri i mejo “verdi” che ce stanno 

co’ senza ch’alla tasca ce sia danno. 

Er verde della fava a maggio impera, 

a quello der carciofo ce se spera, 

poi c’è quello chiaro der baccello 

che t’arinchiude er tenero pisello. 

‘Ste gran tonalità, a mazzi e odori, 

curaveno tra viti nei filari. 

“Vignarola” er raccolto se chiamava 

de piselli, carciofi e de la fava. 

Ripenza a tutto questo, si cucini 

‘sto piatto tanto caro a li romani, 

e ‘nzieme all’ojo, er sale e la pancetta 

la vignarola è pronta in mezz’oretta. 

Er verde se fa scuro e saporito, 

er gusto sciòrto ‘n bocca sembra ‘n mito, 

E dopo ‘sta bontà de cui se freggia 

In più te po’ scappa’ quarche scur…! 

 

This poem describes the expectation of a person who, being at the market, is inebriated by the colors of the spring vegetables: the green of the peas and breast beans and the darker one of the artichokes. Even if it could be prepared in half an hour, the poem tells the daily activities of the peasants and vintners who prepared Vignarola returning from the vineyards.

 

Vignarola: the recipe 

 

Ingredients

 

250 g of shelled broad beans

250 g of shelled peas

2 Roman artichokes (mammole)

The juice of a lemon

1 fresh onion

1 slice of bacon half a cm thick (about 60 g)

Half glass of dry white wine

1 bunch of mint (mentuccia)

Salt

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Pepper

 

Preparing time 15 min

Cooking time 25 min

Serves 4

 

Directions

 

At the first, shell the beans (keep some zest aside) and shell the peas, wash both under cold water keeping them separate and keep the outer pods of the peas. 

Clean the artichokes, removing the hardest external leaves and the tips, then place them in a bowl with water acidulated with lemon juice. Clean the spring onion without throwing the green part and slice it finely.

Place a pan with 1 liter of salted water on the fire, add the scraps of the vegetables (the outer pods of the peas and some broad beans, the green part of the onions and a few artichoke leaves) and simmer, uncovered, for about 45 minutes. Add salt and filter the broth thus obtained, keeping it warm.

In a pan, fry the sliced spring onion with a few tablespoons of oil until it is transparent, then add the bacon cut into fine strips and brown. In the meantime, drain the artichokes, cut them into 6 wedges each, remove the inner beard and place them in the pan, adding a couple of ladles of broth.

After about 10 minutes add the beans with another ladle of broth and finally, after another 5 minutes, add the peas too. At this point pour the wine, let it evaporate, then sprinkle with chopped catmint, cover and continue cooking for about 10 minutes (the vegetables should not be too soft), stirring occasionally and adding more broth.

At the end of cooking season with salt, grind a pinch of pepper and leave to rest for at least ten minutes, covered. Serve the lukewarm vignarola, accompanied, if you wish, by a few slices of roasted unsalted bread.

Enjoy your Vignarola!

 

Photo by https://www.greatitalianchefs.com/recipes/vignarola-recipe

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