In the name of professional development, I purchased 6 bundles of lovage last week without a plan. In Vegetable Literacy, Deborah Madison recommends adding lovage to potatoes and dried beans as well as egg salad, tomato and lentil soups, and green salads. She even suggests using the more mature, hollow stems as a straw for a Bloody Mary.
Recently, I served this sauce over tuna confit and gigante beans. The anchovies are a subtle but welcome addition. I implore you to include them – anchovy paste is a suitable substitute in a pinch unless you’re keeping it vegetarian or vegan, in which case it’s perfectly acceptable to omit.
- 1 small shallot, minced
- 3T red wine vinegar
- 1 bunch lovage, finely chopped
- 1T capers, finely chopped
- 3 anchovy filets, finely chopped
- 1 ½ cups extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Freshly cracked black pepper
Place the shallots, red wine vinegar, and a pinch of salt in a small bowl. The vinegar should cover the minced shallots. If necessary, add a bit more vinegar. Leave to macerate for 5 minutes, then strain and reserve the vinegar.
When chopping the lovage, take care to dry the leaves well. Excess moisture will encourage bruising and catalyst unsightly browning. A sharp knife is imperative here.
Place the lovage, capers, anchovy, and macerated shallots in a small bowl. Fold in the olive oil. You may not need it all. Salsa verde should be loose enough to drip off a spoon, but not so loose that it resembles soup. Find a happy medium. You may not need all the oil. Season with salt, black pepper, and a couple of drops of the vinegar from the macerated shallots.
If preparing the sauce ahead of time, withhold the shallots and vinegar as the vinegar will hasten the discoloration of the bright herbs. Fold the shallots and vinegar in right before you’re ready to serve.
This is a delicious condiment for roasted chicken or steak but would also be at home over a bed of steamed baby potatoes or cooked white beans.
This recipe has a number of steps and requires some patience. Like any good ragú, this sauce gets most of its flavor and personality from a long, slow cook, at least an hour if you can swing it. Do not be deterred. The sauce will pay it forward in spades with deep layers of flavor. It’s perfectly suitable for a quiet Sunday afternoon amidst a mountain of laundry waiting to be folded and a pile of e-mails waiting for responses.
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- 1 ounce dried mushrooms, preferably porcini, soaked in 1 cup boiling water
- 2 pounds cremini or baby bella mushrooms, rinsed, 1 pound quartered, ½ pound minced in the Cuisinart
- 1 large or 2 small shallots, minced (you can use a food processor for the shallots, carrots and celery if you prefer)
- 1 large carrot, minced
- 2 stalks celery, minced
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 14-ounce can tomatoes
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 Parmesan rinds
- Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
- Bouquet garni of 2 sprigs rosemary, 4 sprigs thyme and 2 bay leaves
Using a food processor or Cuisinart, pulse the shallots, carrot, and celery to fine pieces. Set aside. Add ½ pound of rinsed mushrooms and soaked porcinis and pulse to fine pieces. Set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium-size rondeau over medium-high heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add half the quartered mushrooms. Let the mushrooms sear for several minutes before jostling them gently and adding a big pinch of salt and a couple grinds of black pepper. Stir gently to evenly sear, adjusting the heat as needed so the bottom of the pan doesn’t scorch. Once the mushrooms are almost evenly seared, add a tablespoon of butter and stir to evenly coat. Remove the mushrooms from the pan and set aside. Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the same pot and repeat with the rest of the quartered mushrooms.
Once all the quartered mushrooms are seared, add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and sear the minced mushrooms. Sear until evenly browned, then scoop out of the pan and set aside with the seared quartered mushrooms.
Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the over medium-low heat along with the vegetables. Sweat the vegetables until softened, about 10 minutes, scraping up the mushroom fond with a wooden spoon. After 3 or 4 minutes, season the vegetables with salt and pepper.
Turn the heat to medium and add the wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze any lingering bits of fond. Add the tomato paste and cook 1-2 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes and mix well. Add mushroom tea and enough water so that the vegetables are nearly entirely submerged in liquid.
Simmer over medium heat until the liquid is reduced by half, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the milk, bouquet garni, and Parmesan rinds. Reduce again by half until the sauce is nicely thickened.
Once the ragu is the right consistency, finish by stirring in one tablespoon of butter.
This ragu freezes beautifully. If you are freezing it, thaw it in the fridge overnight before you need to use it, then reheat slowly and mount in another pad of butter before serving.
This is one of those recipes that anyone can tackle. It comes from The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan, the doyenne of Italian cooking. The ingredient is short (and probably all stuff you have in the pantry). The process is simple and streamlined. Best of all, it yields a sauce whose flavor is robust in its generosity.
In the introduction to this recipe excerpted in Genius Recipes, Kristen Miglore shares this quote from Marcella: Simple doesn’t mean easy … I can describe simple cooking thus: Cooking that is stripped all the way down to those procedures and those ingredients indispensable in enunciating the sincere flavor intentions of a dish.”
- 2 pounds fresh tomatoes, peeled, or canned tomatoes
- 5T unsalted butter
- 1 onion, halved
- kosher salt
Put the tomatoes in a medium saucepan with the butter, onion, and salt. Simmer for 45 minutes, stirring periodically, folding the fat back into the tomato once it starts to separate. Mash the tomatoes with the back of your spoon to encourage them to disassemble and merge into the sauce.
To finish the sauce, you can leave it textured and slightly chunky or pass through a food mill for a smoother consistency. Marcella suggests tossing out the onion before serving, but I quite like milling the whole thing so bits of onion comingle with the tomato.
Serve with pasta and loads of parm or use as a braising liquid for your favorite meatball recipe.