When we reached Joyce Goldstein to talk about her latest book “The New Mediterranean Jewish Table: Old World Recipes for the Modern Home,” she called herself a detective. “I like to know where food comes from, following the trail of a recipe from one country to the other,” Joyce told Evan. For the book, Joyce focused her sleuthing skills on dishes that are part of Sephardic, Maghrebi and Mizrahi culinary traditions. She shares a recipe for a dish popular for Passover in the Mediterranean: carciofata di Trieste.
Joyce says this is the ideal dish to serve at Passover, as it includes all of the vegetables of the holiday season. In the old days, the vegetables were cooked together in one pot because flavor was more important than texture and color. But today, they are more appealing when cooked separately until almost tender and still colorful and then combined and cooked through just before serving.
Spring vegetable stew (carciofata di Trieste)
Yield: makes 6 servings
1 lemon, juiced
3 medium artichokes, or 6 small artichokes (about 8 ounces after trimming)
3 tbsps olive oil
2 tsps garlic, minced (or more to taste)
1 cup English peas, shelled
8 oz baby carrots, peeled
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
8 oz asparagus tips
8 oz little new potatoes
8 oz tiny pearl onions, peeled
2 cups vegetable broth, or as needed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Pinch of sugar (optional)
¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped (plus more for garnish, if desired)
Fresh mint or basil, chopped for garnish (optional)
Prepare the vegetables: Shell and blanch the English peas for 1 minute, then set aside. Parboil the peeled baby carrots for 5 to 7 minutes, then set aside. Slice and sauté the mushrooms in olive oil for 5 minutes, then set aside. Blanch the asparagus tips in boiling water for 2 minutes, then set aside. Parboil the potatoes for 7 to 10 minutes, depending on the size. Set aside. Parboil the peeled pearl onions for 4 to 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Fill a medium saucepan with lightly salted water and bring to a boil.
Prepare the artichokes: Meanwhile, add the juice of 1 lemon to a bowl of water. Working with 1 artichoke at a time, trim off the stem flush with the bottom, then remove all of the leaves until you reach the heart. Pare away the dark green areas from the base.
Cut the artichoke heart in half and scoop out and discard the choke from each half with a small pointed spoon or a paring knife. Slice each half into quarters and slip them into the lemon water. When all of the artichokes are trimmed, strain them out of the lemon water and add them to your saucepan of lightly salted boiling water. Parboil for 5 minutes and drain.
For the stew: Warm the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and parsley and stir for a minute or two. Add the prepared artichokes, peas, carrots, mushrooms, asparagus, potatoes, pearl onions and just enough vegetable broth to moisten.
Bring the stew to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until all of the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, then add the sugar, if needed for flavor balance.
To serve: Transfer the stew to a serving dish and garnish with the mint. Serve hot.
Spring Vegetable Stew with Egg & Lemon
(Carciofata con Bagna Brusca)
Ingredients (same as above, plus)
1 whole egg
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
Once the vegetables are tender, whisk together 1 egg and ¼-cup of fresh lemon juice in a separate bowl until very frothy. Next, gradually whisk in about ⅓-cup of the hot vegetable cooking liquid into the egg mixture to temper it.
Pour the egg mixture into the vegetables cooking in your sauté pan and stir well, then remove from the heat. (Once you have added the egg and lemon, you cannot reheat the dish.)
Garnish with the mint and serve at once.
Top photo by Sergio Russo.