Ragout of Fava Beans, Peas, and Asparagus with Pecorino & Crispy Prosciutto

Ragout of Fava Beans, Peas…It’s been some time since I posted about gardening. There hasn’t been anything to do, really. A brief moment of excitement happened when volunteer potatoes filled my potato bed. But then the frost came, wiped all of ’em out, and the moment passed…sigh. The early appearance of daffodils and crocus among the grasses is a welcome sight because it means that things are about to get real in the veggie garden.

Two weeks ago I planted snow peas and shell peas. It felt wonderful to spend the afternoon with my hands in the soil. Of course, the chickens were happy to eat any bugs that came their way. You gotta love natural pest control!

I planted the snow peas because my daughter demanded it, but I planted the shelling peas with a particular recipe in mind. Generally, this is how I choose what to plant. It’s not a novel concept, but it works for my family. I have blackberries and strawberries for jam, cucumbers for pickles, pumpkins for stuffing with bread and cheese and these peas that are destined for a Ragout of Fava Beans, Peas, and Asparagus with Pecorino and Crispy Prosciutto.

Over the years I have taken many cooking classes. One of my first was an evening series at Tante Marie in San Francisco, where I learned this recipe. It is the embodiment of Spring. I make it as soon as I can find the fresh, local ingredients. It’s that good. Fair warning: you will have to work for it. The fava beans require peeling — which can be a pain.

I’m thinking it’s time to whip some of this up this weekend. (Maybe with a grilled leg of lamb…mmmmmm.)  

Ragout of Fava Beans, Peas, and Asparagus with Pecorino and Crispy Prosciutto
Recipe adapted from Tante Marie Cooking School, San Francisco
Serves 8 as a side dish

2 ounces prosciutto
2 pounds fava beans in the pod
2 pounds asparagus
2 cups peas, shelled
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 shallots, chopped
1 clove garlic
3 ounces Pecorino-Romano, shaved into strips
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon chopped parsley
2 Tablespoons chopped mint + mint sprigs for garnish
1 Tablespoon chopped chervil (optional)
2 teaspoons kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Separate the prosciutto and lay flat on a cooling rack over a sheet pan. Bake
until crisp, about 10 minutes. Allow to cool on a rack. Crumble into bite-size pieces.
Set aside.

Remove beans from fava bean pods and set aside. Cut the asparagus halves
into 1-inch pieces, on a diagonal angle.

Blanch the fava beans in boiling salted water for 1 minute. Cool in an ice bath
and peel the outer shell. Peel the tough outer skin from each bean. Discard the
shells and set the peeled beans aside. Blanch the asparagus in the same water,
about 1 minute, and cool in an ice bath. Blanch the peas in the same water for
about 1 minute then cool in an ice bath.

Heat the butter in a sauté pan; add the onions. Sauté until translucent, about 8
minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the favas, asparagus, and
peas. Cook until heated through. Right before serving, add the lemon juice,
parsley, mint, chervil, and salt.

Spoon vegetables onto a warmed platter and garnish with pecorino shavings,
mint sprigs, and the crispy prosciutto. Alternately serve spooned over toast.

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