Sugo di Carciofi alla Ligure (Artichoke Sauce from Liguria)
Source: Joyce Goldstein, author of Mediterranean Fresh and many other cookbooks
You can use this Genoese sauce on pasta, of course, but it can also be spooned over cooked meat or fish. I like it a bit chunky, although it is sometimes puréed. If you want it smooth, use a food mill; if you want to maintain a bit of texture, use the pulse function on a food processor. Note the typical Ligurian addition of dried porcini, which boosts the overall flavor of the sauce. In the Abruzzo, a similar sauce, sugo di asparagi pazzi, is made with asparagus, tomatoes, and garlic, which are left to simmer very slowly in olive oil over low heat.
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1 lemon, halved
4 large artichokes
3 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
½ cup rich tomato sauce, tomato sauce, or canned tomato sauce
½ cup dry white wine
3 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 pound fresh egg pasta such as pappardelle, fettuccine, piccage,or garganelli cooked
Salt, to taste
Grated parmesan cheese (optional)
- Soak the porcini mushrooms in hot water and cover for 30 minutes. Drain, reserving the soaking liquid, and chop the mushroom finely. Set aside. Then, pour soaking liquid through a fine-mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth, and set this aside.
- Squeeze the juice of the lemon into a large bowl filled with water. Working with one artichoke at a time, remove all of the leaves and trim away any dark green parts from the base and the stem. If the stem seems tough, cut it off flush with the base. If tender, cut the base into 6 or 8 wedges or into thick slices. Scoop out the prickly choke with a spoon or cut it out with a paring knife. As each artichoke is trimmed, add the pieces to the lemon water and leave them in the water until ready to cook.
- In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, parsley, and porcini and sauté until the onions are softened and translucent, about 10 minutes. Drain the artichokes and add them to the pan along with some salt and the mushroom soaking liquid. Cook, stirring often, until the artichokes are well coated with the vegetable mixture and start to soften, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, stir in the flour and tomato sauce, and simmer for 10 minutes longer to blend the tomato sauce and vegetables. Pour in the wine and cook until it is absorbed by the artichokes, 8 to 10 minutes. Continue to cook, stirring often, until the artichokes are very tender, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Stir in the butter, then taste and adjust the seasoning with salt. Toss the sauce with the pasta and serve. If desired, pass the cheese at the table.