When winter finally packs its bags, it’s time to keep an eye out for the first spring vegetable bounty. Tender baby artichokes, spring onions, and favas are some of my favorite seasonal veggies and when I am able to get them straight from the farmer’s market, I don’t have to do too much to enjoy them at their best. My go to dish is Scafata, a mix of seasonal vegetables gently cooked in olive oil, topped with an egg and a healthy sprinkle of Romano or Parmesan cheese. This can easily be served as a brunch dish, a hearty side, or a light lunch alongside a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, and it comes together fairly quickly (after all the veggies have been prepped anyway).
What is Scafata?
Scafata is a simple, homestyle dish that comes from Umbria, Italy. Made nearly entirely out of green vegetables, really good olive oil, and a handful of fresh herbs, it is an excellent and delicious way to get your recommended serving of veggies. My husband particularly loves this dish because it is made with fresh fava beans, his favorite. The produce quality is of the utmost importance in this dish because it is so simple, so buy the best you can afford.
While we were in France, my mother-in-law and I headed to the Wednesday market in Bergerac to pick up the vegetables for this dish and couldn’t find escarole, so we substituted spinach. Like many country dishes, this recipe can be modified to use whatever is available at the market, but it really does center on fava beans, so take advantage of when they are in season. Additionally, it can be made with bacon, pancetta, or guanciale if you want to add meat to this dish, and on the flip side, the cheese and egg can be omitted to make it a vegan dish.
Keep It Seasonal
Here are the basic vegetables that you can use in whatever combination you like:
- Fava beans (some people substitute lima beans)
- Freshly shelled peas (frozen can work in a pinch)
- Spring Onions
- Green Garlic
- Swiss Chard
1 cup fava beans, shelled
1/2 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-3″ pieces
1 lb. baby artichokes, trimmed and quartered
1 cup English peas, shelled
1 bunch spring onions, sliced
4 cups escarole, chopped
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup each of fresh basil and mint, chopped
extra virgin olive oil
Parmesan or Romano cheese, shredded or shaved
4 eggs (optional)
In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, and gently cook for 1-2 minutes before adding artichokes. The artichokes take the longest to cook, anywhere from 9-12 minutes (I always taste test a piece to make sure they are tender). When the artichokes are tender, add the garlic, asparagus, favas, and peas, then season with salt and pepper. After 2-3 minutes, add the escarole and stir occasionally, until the escarole begins to wilt. Remove from heat and then toss in the basil and mint, giving the entire dish a couple additional turns with the spoon.
If you are serving with eggs, you can do them sunny side up, over easy, or poached – these will give you a lovely runny yolk that you can stir into the vegetables. Divide the scafata into four bowls, top with egg (if using), and a generous dusting of Parmesan cheese.