Food and Drink


In Season: Spring Produce

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Fritedda (or frittella) is a Sicilian dish served in mid-spring when the key ingredients — young artichokes, broad beans, spring onions and peas — are at their most tender. It comes from western Sicily where so many agro dolce dishes bear homage to the influence of the Moors.

The Moors also introduced artichokes and spring onions (or scallions) to Sicily. The name scallion comes from the town in Palestine where they were thought to have originated. For a time they were known as ‘onions of Ascalon’.

To make fritedda you’ll need: broad beans, young artichokes, spring onions and peas with a ratio of roughly two parts broad beans to one part each of artichokes and peas. It is essential that these ingredients are fresh. You’ll also need extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar and a small lemon.

The dish is quite simple to make. Firstly, sit yourself down and shell the peas and beans. This is a very relaxing way for a household to sit together, share a common task and have a yarn, especially if you accept that time is the lost ingredient of good fresh food.

Next chop five spring onions and, taking the widest pan you have, sauté them in olive oil for one minute. Then add the freshly-sliced hearts and tender leaves of four medium-sized artichokes, barely cover them with water and simmer for about five minutes or until just tender. Add the broad beans and fresh peas. Simmer them for a further few minutes, adding more water if necessary.

The artichoke pieces should be soft and the beans should be tender enough that their skins come away easily from the bright green centres. Don’t discard the skins. If the beans are young they will be quite tender.

Now drain off the water and stir in 6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon of red wine vinegar and a squeeze of lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. You can serve it warm, at room temperature or chilled as a salad.

But please don’t use frozen broad beans for this dish, they won’t be at all the same and you’ll miss out on the therapeutic chit-chat around the table