Spring Ragout Recipe

This spring ragout recipe delivers a stunning pan of fava beans, green peas, and asparagus finished off with a tiny touch of cream, lemon zest, and grated cheese.

Spring Ragout

This spring ragout can take five minutes to pull together or fifty - depending on how much shelling you are willing to do. The basic idea is this - take fava beans, fresh green peas, and skinny green asparagus stems and cook until bright and vibrant - barely any time at all. Finish them off with the smallest splash of cream, a hint of lemon zest, and a dusting of freshly grated cheese. I'll be the first to say a recipe like this really shines when you use farmer's market fresh favas and peas - but I recognize that not everyone has the time (or inclination) to sit around double shelling fava beans. Never mind the fact that some of you are still snowed in ;)

The good news is that you can make a quick, end-of-a-busy-day version of this spring ragout using whatever fresh ingredients you have prepped on hand, supplemented by an ingredient or two from the deep freeze. Frozen peas work nicely in a recipe like this, and I've even come across frozen pre-shelled fava beans at Whole Foods Market. All told this recipe creates a skillet full of beautiful, bright, healthy, deliciousness. And for those of you looking for a vegan version, omit the dairy and you still have a wonderful springtime plate to enjoy. While I enjoyed the vegetables all on their own, my mind kept wandering to other serving ideas. How about:

- ladled over a serving of pan-fried gnocchi.

- served in a shallow bowl of simple broth with a drizzle of good olive oil and a sprinkling of grated cheese.

- spooned over a family-style quiche or frittata.

- mixed into a bowl of short pasta for a twist on pasta salad.

- as a component in a spring version of a ravioli salad

- Inside some skinny omelettes or crepes.

Spring Ragout Recipe

While I used fava beans, peas, and asparagus here, feel free to explore other spring ingredients. The only thing to be mindful of is cooking times - some vegetables will take more time to cook than others. For example peas are going to cook much more quickly than a thick cut of asparagus or potato. One way to even the playing field (so to speak) is to cut ingredients into into like sizes, or cook each ingredient seperately and combine them in the end. Keep your eyes peeled for baby spring carrots, fiddle heads, baby squash, morel mushrooms, baby artichokes (trimmed and quartered), and/or tiny potatoes. All would be right at home in a dish like this.

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Spring Ragout Recipe

It is important to have all your ingredients washed, prepped and ready to go before you even get near the stove. The whole thing comes together fast and furiously. The edible flowers you see here are flor de kale morado, unlike many other other edible flowers you might find they can stand up to a bit of cooking - it softens up their stems a bit and makes them a more pleasant texture to eat.

20-30 fava bean pods, removed from puffy shells
extra virgin olive oil
fine grain sea salt
1 bunch thin asparagus, cut into 1/2-inch segments
1 1/2 cups peas, freshly shelled or frozen
zest of one lemon
splash of cream
pecorino cheese (Parmesan would be a fine alt.)
edible flowers for garnish (totally optional)

Cook fava beans for about a minute in a pot of salted water. Drain, run under cold water, and shell 2nd layer. To do this pinch each fava to break the skin and gently squeeze to separate the bean from the skin. Set aside.

In a cold skillet big splash of olive oil, 2 big pinches of salt, and 2 tablespoons of water. Heat over medium high heat and when the water starts bubbling add the asparagus spears. Cover and cook for 30-45 seconds, longer if the asparagus is thicker until it is barely tender and bright green. Stir in the peas peas and cook uncovered for another 20 seconds or so (maybe a touch longer if you were using peas that were frozen). Stir in the lemon zest, the tiniest splash of cream, and serve garnished with edible flowers.

Serves 4.

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What a lovely blog you have great recipes. This ragout looks so fresh and inviting. Yum.

Amelita (Squishy)

I LOVE your food. You are up there in my top list of people who add value to my life.


i've been dreaming of fava beans since we had fava bean puree-stuffed tortellini at a restaurant a few weeks ago. i love the color, and especially like the idea of pouring this over some pan-fried gnocchi. or maybe some crispy polenta? yum.

michelle @ TNS

As always, so clean, fresh, and beautiful. You're pictures and descriptions always make me hungry in the most healthy way, which is such a nice balance to my, er...mostly dessert-based cooking. Guilty as charged! :)


Can anyone remember if there is an edible flower section in one of the Jerry Traunfeld cookbooks? I seem to remember there might be something there. Thanks for all the nice notes! I hope you are all enjoying weather as nice as we are here this weekend. And Claudia, drop me an email when you buy some favas. We can figure out a game plan. :)


Yes! we don't all post, but listen and learn and appreciate greatly what you do. This Spring Ragout is making my mouth water-time to head to the market and the kitchen! Keep up the great work!


I love this recipe, is simple and delicious. I recently made something similar but with a sauce typical from Catalunya: romescu. It combines very well with spring vegetables. Thanks for the recipe


As beautiful as the picture was, I was originally going to pass on this recipe. However, at my local farmers market, all the ingredients for this were there, just asking to be made into ragot. if you are ever in san luis obispo, every Thursday night there is a gigantic farmers market. It can be crowded during the summer but I think you would enjoy what this area has to offer.


Seasonal, yummmm... How delicious...


Oh, do tell more about those lovely flowers. I haven't the least idea what they are. I do know you can eat organic rose petals and violets, and I've encountered the amazing variety of herbal geraniums (nasturtiums?), but I've never seen those brilliant purple and yellow things.


How beautiful! I love a good ragout. This green ragout of yours shouts Spring!


Ah...begonias. I will start trying to hunt them down. Thanks :)


this comment doesn't pertain to the spring ragout recipe (which i will try the next time I find fresh fava beans), BUT I wanted to tell all of Heidi's fans that Super Natural Cooking made Chow Hound's list of top 10 veggie-phile cookbooks, joining (deservedly) the ranks of the Moosewood Cookbook and the Chez Panisse Cookbook. link: http://www.chow.com/stories/11038 Yay, Heidi!


On the subject of edible flowers: I always think of the time in sixth grade when we had someone come talk to us about flowers and things and he brought redbuds ( http://www.gpnc.org/redbud.htm ) for us to try. I had never really thought of flowers as being edible before that (though it does make a certain sort of sense).


Heidi, Your eye and palate never cease to amaze. I consider myself a relatively creative cook at the end of a long day, but reading your blog during said long days helps a lot. ;-) You definitely have a knack for adding the last touch that really pulls a dish together. Thanks for the ongoing ideas and beautiful pictures. Love the book too!


This looks lovely. I'm so excited that spring is here, bringing all sorts of goodies like broad beans and asparagus. I often get broad beans in my vegetable box so I have no choice but to pod them - but I don't really mind. Do you double pod them? Removing the second skin is unnecessary but it does reveal a beautiful emerald flavour. And asparagus - yum. This is just coming into season here in England and it's one of the true culinary treasures of this island. It's only in season for May and June so I definitely plan to make the most of it. You can buy it at other times of the year but it's grown elsewhere and it's never as good, never mind the food miles. This puts me in mind to make a spring vegetables minestrone.


Just incredible. I still have a hang-up on peas from the days of being forced to stay at the table to I ate them. But this looks so good, that I am going to buy the ingredients at the Farmer's Market this weekend and give it a go. The photography is lovely as usual. Thanks for the extra suggestions as well.


They're right! You're a wonder and a poet -- a Goddess of Heartwarming Food -- easy on the eye too. And those of us out on different (seemingly increasingly outlandish) continents are gladdened when you post, a touch of freshness and inspiration enlivening the day.


Hmm, looks like maybe mustard flowers here? I could be way off. One edible flower that actually has some taste is the begonia. Its flavour is kind of lemony sour: great on a sandwich.


Oh Yum! I just made this with what I had on hand...green beans, okra and kale. I substituted the cream with coconut cream (not the sweet stuff). My taste buds and tummy are happy.


Yummy! I had this for dinner tonight with market-fresh favas and peas, spooned over pasta and topped with a poached egg and fresh chives. Made for a simple yet most elegant and delicious meal. Thank you, Heidi. Your recipes are a constant source of inspiration for me as I expand my culinary vocabulary. You make cooking beautiful, healthy food a joy. P.S. I think we are practically neighbors (I'm in Hayes Valley) If you ever need an audience to test your recipes on....


Your wandering mind makes this a truly great post.


I just did something very similar based on a recipe from Greens (butter rather than cream) and it was delicious. I used favas, sugar snap peas, artichoke hearts and then turnips and spigrello (or however you spell that kale-like green Mariquita Farms is growing) because that's what we had from our box. And then I made the amaranth flour biscuits from Super Natural Foods to soak up the yummy sauces. I think one the keys is to use a pretty wide mix of vegetables so that there is variety in flavors and textures in every bit. It was one of my favorite spring dishes thus far.


Hi Heidi, On tuesday this blog was featured in my local free paper! LOVE the pics and recipies :D


That looks like a mouthful of fresh, and I can't wait to try them. You're certainly inspiring in how you continue to take advantage of the bounty of this season. By the way, with regards to those coconut pancakes, there are no words. They made my Saturday last weekend.


That looks fresh, beautiful and delicious. Being the gym bunny I'm tempted to recreate that and add some eggs to make a frittata!


Wow, that's gorgeous! I love this ultra green time of year. I make something similar and sprinkle it with toasted pistachios and sesame seeds just before serving. Thanks for another bit of beautiful inspiration.


I love this site! You are an artist, poet and wonderful cook! I too am intriqued about the beans and edible flowers. So, I figured I would send you my comment to, so that you will know that I appreciate what you do. I have tried MANY of your recipes! Please keep 'em coming! Thanks Kitty


so gorgeous absolutely GORGEOUS! i've never done the fava thing on my own but i wanna

claudia (cook eat FRET)

Now that's what I call going 'green'...!


Dawn answered Mrs Redboots on the fava = broad bean question, thank you as I was wondering the same thing. I also see lima beans, which look just like broad beans too, so are they the same thing also? I do like the look of this dish - I always thought a ragout had to be tomato based, so I'm happy to see it isn't.


Haha, well if I were to make this dish, I would HOPE that it would only take me 5 minutes, not 50 ;0) Looks absolutely marvelous; and it SCREAMS springtime flavor!! :0)


I'm so intrigued by the pretty kale flowers. I haven't seen anything like them in my farmer's market.


Yum, green and seasonal! This recipe proves that the simplest food is always the tastiest.


I love your site. It's always clean, concise, to the point, but also entertaining and nice to look at. Being a former photographer, I like the simplicity of food shots that tell it all in one dose. I love that you are still passionate about food when you could easily stop, disappointing us all! I gave your site to my step-daughter and a good friend/former chef-instructor, and they absolutely admire what you are doing. I live in a rough environment, though very close to nature, so I still admire your post about the time when you went to a friend's cabin and she had mentioned that you probably shouldn't bring your white house slippers. :0) Those would never fly at my home! Keep up the good thing you're doing. Lots of us don't ever reply, but we listen, we look, and we enjoy what you bring to this good earth. Thank you so much, Nan


Avoid the whole foods frozen favas. I tried them a few weeks ago with fingerling potatoes. They were terrible. Mushy and salty.


Your vegetables look amazing. I love simple dishes like this that are made with fresh vegetables. Sometimes I feel that people try to make recipe too complicated, instead of allowing the fresh flavors to shine. Once our farmer's market is open, I look forward to getting some produce like this too. :-)

Kimi @ The Nourishing Gourmet

Gorgeous pictures!


This looks great. You could probably use edamame beans too - I just made a fantastic salad the other day with them. (Recipe is on my site.)


@ Mrs Redboots : Yes, fava beans are also called broad beans.


This looks wonderful. We eat a lot of asparagus in the spring, but sometimes I get a little bored with the same old preparation.

Fearless Kitchen

Oooh, that looks yummy. I've never seen fava bean pods though, although I do love fava beans. Have you ever had dried fava beans? They have a great crunch and I've had some spicy seasoned ones, although they are a bit on the dry side. Those flowers are particularly vibrant, excellent colors for garnish! - The Peanut Butter Boy


It looks as though what you call fava beans are what I'd call broad beans here, right? Yummy! I don't think, though, that I'd waste in-season asparagus by cooking it with anything else - just plain steamed with a little good-quality butter, and what more do you need? I suppose imported asparagus needs help, but locally-grown stuff doesn't!

Mrs Redboots

Those edible flowers look so pretty! Does anyone know what they taste like? I tried some years ago and they tasted a bit like...dirt. Not so good. Any particularly tasty varieties?


Michelle makes a great request. Wouldn't it be nice to have a little guide about edible flowers, their flavors, and their favored food companions? Nasturtiums, lavender and borage are familiar to me and I know how to combine them with other foods, but the rest of those lovelies are a mystery.


Ooh Heidi, can you say more about edible flowers? I've seen them but haven't know what to do with them. Garnish makes sense, but they are edible...? Ahhh, so happy it is spring and time for beautiful asparagus and such. http://doesabodygood.blogspot.com


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