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Cooking

3 recipes for spring vegetables, Spanish-style

Artichokes, asparagus, and beans star in dishes that celebrate the season.

Artichokes and beans with ham and sherry.

Photograph by Jim Scherer / Styling by Catrine Kelty

Artichokes and beans with ham and sherry.

Boston has a lot to celebrate, from our strength as a city to the arrival, at last, of lovely spring weather after a bone-chilling and tenacious winter. The hallmark vegetables of spring —artichokes and asparagus leap immediately to mind — are little celebrations unto themselves. Combining them with lusty flavors from Spanish cuisine — sherry, garlic, ham, cumin, roasted pepper — ups the level of festivity.

ARTICHOKES AND BEANS WITH HAM AND SHERRY

Makes about 6 cups

Adapted from Anya von Bremzen’s The New Spanish Table. As you finish trimming the artichokes, drop them into a bowl of lemon water. If the prep is too much, substitute a 9-ounce package of frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and blotted dry, adding them to the pan along with the green and lima beans.

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced

3 ounces Serrano ham or prosciutto, chopped

Kosher salt and pepper

5 garlic cloves, 2 thinly sliced and 3 chopped

½ cup amontillado sherry

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

8 small artichokes (about 5 ounces each), the top third of each artichoke chopped off, leaves and stems trimmed down to pale yellow, halved, and choke removed

12 ounces green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 3 cups)

12 ounces frozen lima beans (about 3 cups)

3 tablespoons chopped parsley

1½ teaspoons fresh lemon juice, or more, to taste

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In a large saute pan over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons oil until shimmering. Add the onion, ham, and ½ teaspoon salt, and saute until onion is softened, about 4 minutes. Add the sliced garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the sherry, adjust the heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring and scraping the pan to dissolve the fond, until reduced to a glaze-like consistency, about 1½ minutes longer. Add the broth, artichokes, ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste, and bring to a boil. Adjust heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until artichokes are barely tender, about 10 minutes longer. Add the green beans and lima beans, adjust the heat to medium-high, and return to a boil. Adjust heat to medium-low, replace the cover, and simmer gently, stirring frequently, until all the vegetables are tender but not mushy, 15 to 20 minutes longer. Remove the cover, adjust the heat to medium-high, return to a boil, and cook until the liquid has reduced by half, about 6 minutes.

Meanwhile, on a cutting board, mix the parsley, chopped garlic, and ¼ teaspoon salt, and chop until it’s so fine that it’s almost a coarse paste. Stir the parsley mixture and lemon juice into the vegetables. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature, drizzling with the remaining oil just before serving.

TIP The final seasoning in the artichoke and bean dish is a finely minced combination of parsley, garlic, and salt called picada (pictured, at left). It’s much finer than chopped parsley (pictured, at right).

Photograph by Jim Scherer / Styling by Catrine Kelty

TIP The final seasoning in the artichoke and bean dish is a finely minced combination of parsley, garlic, and salt called picada (pictured, at left). It’s much finer than chopped parsley (pictured, at right).

PAN-ROASTED ASPARAGUS WITH ROASTED PEPPER, HONEY, AND SHERRY VINEGAR

Serves 4

Look for thicker asparagus (about ¾ inch at the base) for this recipe.

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1½ pounds thick asparagus, tough ends removed, spears peeled if desired

Salt and ground black pepper

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

1½ teaspoons honey

1 garlic clove, minced

3 tablespoons finely chopped roasted red bell pepper

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

In a very large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil until shimmering. Add the asparagus, sprinkle with about ¼ teaspoon salt, toss to coat with oil, spread out in pan, cover, and cook until bright green and still crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove the cover, adjust heat to high, and continue cooking, turning asparagus as needed, until browned in spots and tender, 5 to 7 minutes longer. Arrange asparagus on a serving platter.

Meanwhile, in a small nonreactive bowl, vigorously whisk the vinegar, honey, garlic, remaining oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and black pepper to taste until well blended. Stir in the roasted bell pepper and parsley. Top asparagus with the sauce and serve warm or at room temperature.

ASPARAGUS WITH SAVORY EGG SAUCE

Serves 4

Recipe adapted from The Foods and Wines of Spain by Penelope Casas. Homemade broth is best here.

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, smashed with the flat side of a chef’s knife

1½ pounds thin asparagus, tough ends removed, spears peeled if desired

Salt and ground black pepper

2 large egg yolks

¼ cup chicken stock

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon paprika

Pinch cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon fresh

lemon juice

1 tablespoon minced chives

In a very large skillet over medium heat, heat the oil and garlic until fragrant and garlic just begins to sizzle, 1½ to 2 minutes. Add the asparagus, sprinkle with about ¼ teaspoon salt, toss to coat with oil, cover, and cook, scooping and tossing the asparagus frequently so they cook evenly, until just tender, about 8 minutes (a little longer for thicker spears). Arrange the asparagus on a serving platter.

Meanwhile, in a medium heatproof bowl set over a saucepan filled with 1 inch of barely simmering water over low heat (bottom of bowl should not touch the water), stir the egg yolks, stock, cumin, paprika, cayenne, ½ teaspoon salt, and black pepper to taste, and cook slowly, stirring constantly, until thick enough to leave a trail with crisp edges on the back of the stirring spoon when you run your finger through it, 3 to 5 minutes (do not allow to curdle). Add the lemon juice and stir to mix. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and black pepper if necessary.

Top the asparagus with the sauce, sprinkle with chives, and serve at once.

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