Vegetable Ragout with Pesto (Ragoût de Légumes au Pistou)

  • Serves

    serves 4


Pairing pistou, an herb sauce made with fresh basil, with tender spring vegetables makes for a bright-tasting seasonal entree; the recipe comes from Patricia Wells at Home in Provence (Scribner, 1996).


  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 4 globe artichokes
  • 2 cups loosely packed basil leaves
  • 12 cup plus 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced, plus 8 cloves, peeled and left whole
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 bouquet garni (3 sprigs each summer savory, thyme, and parsley, tied together with kitchen twine)
  • 34 cup white wine
  • 2 plum tomatoes, peeled, cored, seeded, and roughly chopped
  • 1 lb. fresh peas in their pods, shelled and blanched, or 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 lb. fava beans in their pods, shelled and blanched, skins removed
  • 20 asparagus tips, blanched


Step 1

Combine lemon juice and 6 cups water in a large bowl. Working with one artichoke at a time, place artichoke on its side. Using a serrated knife, cut off leaves by making a crosswise cut about 1 1⁄2" from where the stem meets the base; discard leaves. Cut away tough outer leaves remaining on artichoke's base until you reach inner yellow leaves. Using a peeler, remove green outer layer from stem and base. Trim off bottom 1⁄2" of stem. Use a spoon to scoop out fuzzy choke from center of artichoke. Quarter trimmed artichoke; transfer to lemon water. Repeat with remaining artichokes.

Step 2

To make the pistou, combine the basil, 1⁄2 cup olive oil, minced garlic, and salt and pepper in the bowl of a small food processor and process until smooth; set aside.

Step 3

Drain artichokes. Heat remaining oil in a 12" skillet over medium heat; add the garlic cloves, onions, bouquet garni, and salt and pepper. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the artichokes, wine, tomatoes, and 1⁄2 cup water; cook, covered, until artichokes are tender, about 25 minutes. Add the peas, fava beans, and asparagus and cook until tender, about 3 minutes; remove and discard the bouquet garni. To serve, divide mixture between four bowls, top each with a generous spoonful of pistou, and serve with crusty bread.

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