This Easy, One-Skillet Dinner Tastes Like Spring

Of all the reasons I fantasize about moving to Rome, the availability of precleaned artichokes is near the top of my list.

Whenever I felt like it, I could just nip down to the local vegetable market where the artichokes would be bobbing in buckets of lemon water, their pointy petals trimmed, their hairy hearts defuzzed, their fibrous stems meticulously pared away, until only the bright-green tender center remained. It would take mere minutes to turn them into dinner, and in spring I’d happily eat them every night.

Recipe: One-Pan Creamy Artichokes and Peas

But, in my New York reality, fresh artichokes are weekends-only, when I have the time and patience to clean them. When the craving hits during the workweek, I simply reach for a can.

Of course, canned artichokes are not interchangeable with fresh ones, certainly not in the way canned beans can replace dried beans cooked from scratch.

But canned artichokes (and their chilly frozen cousins) have distinct charms, including a mild, earthy flavor and soft, velvety texture that work beautifully in dishes created to take advantage of them.

Think of canned artichokes like canned tuna. Fresh tuna steaks are fantastic seared and served rare, but I wouldn’t want them in a tuna salad sandwich. Each has its own role in a balanced kitchen ecosystem.

This speedy springlike vegetable stew was designed to bring out the best in canned artichokes, anchoring the mixture with their smooth, meaty character. The sauce that surrounds them is made from leeks (or scallions) cooked down in butter, herbs and wine, until silky, glossy and fragrant. Peas, either fresh if it’s springtime or frozen if it’s not, add pops of bright color and sweetness. I stir in dollops of fresh milky ricotta just before serving, which melts a little over the hot vegetables, thickening the stew and making it gorgeously creamy and rich.

But if you do have the time to clean your own fresh artichokes (or, maybe you live in Rome), you can substitute them here. Just slice them into ½-inch pieces after cleaning, and let the stew simmer for a few extra minutes until the artichokes are tender and supple.

Thanks to the canned artichokes and frozen peas I can, and do, make this stew all year long. But I find myself craving it most in March and April, when it’s artichoke season in Rome.

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