Women with Fish



ALTHOUGH you hide in the ebb and flow
Of the pale tide when the moon has set,
The people of coming days will know
About the casting out of my net,
And how you have leaped times out of mind
Over the little silver cords,
And think that you were hard and unkind,
And blame you with many bitter words.



Ten Thousand Leaves, by Kae Sasaki.

Recipe below: Swiss Chard Gratin with Montasio and Pine Nuts

When I was eleven or twelve, I began worrying about hurting leaves. I feared that pulling a leaf off a tree and tearing it in half would be like slicing into my forearm with a razor blade. Eventually I tried to avoid even brushing against a tree, thinking the leaves would experience a dull ache, like the muscle pain I’d feel after an especially hard ballet class. I’m not sure I told anyone about it, but eventually it extended to the dinner table. Watching my father rip leaves of basil for a salad or my mother cook spinach over a high flame became difficult. The pain for the basil, the spinach! I couldn’t eat salad. Chewing raw leaves: impossible. I looked forward to fall, when all the leaves would fall away and dry to a crunch. Then I’d know they were truly dead and couldn’t be harmed any longer.

I’m not clear how long this hangup lasted, a few years for sure. I know it went through two summers, because I remember preparing myself for the second round of spring buds appearing. That was hard. But eventually it all faded away, and I went back to running around like a normal kid.

I didn’t think about that peculiar time in my life for decades, until I was handling Swiss chard for this recipe. Touching those big, somewhat ruffly leaves, slicing away the thick stalks, I felt an old familiar weakness in my fingers. Careful. I shouldn’t be doing this. And I’m a gal who has butchered legs of lamb and ripped the skin off live eels. Luckily, the return of my leaf issue didn’t last more than about ten minutes. Then I got on with my massacre dread-free.

And free to go on with an easy but good vegetarian end-of-winter recipe. A classic gratin, using leaves. I associate this kind of preparation with French bistro cooking, but Italians make it too. Besciamella is the base that holds your leaf of choice in a creamy suspension, usually along with a little cheese. I had a firm chunk of Friulian Montasio in my fridge and used it. The French would more likely go with a Gruyère-type. Montasio tastes a little like Parmigiano, only slightly less umami. It melts beautifully (it’s what’s used to make Frico, that lacy pan-sautéed cracker-type thing that’s so good draped over salad or placed on hot soup).

To my palate, the flinty taste of Swiss chard makes an especially sophisticated leaf gratin, but escarole or chicory or spinach will work, if you can stand handling them. Now I can.

Swiss Chard Gratin with Montasio and Pine Nuts

(Serves 4)

2 bunches of Swiss chard (about a pound), any really thick center stalks cut away, what remains washed and then well chopped (leave a little water clinging to it)
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 small shallot, finely diced
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
Black pepper
A few big gratings of nutmeg
5 large sprigs of marjoram, the leaves chopped
½ cup pine nuts, lightly toasted

For the besciamella:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1tablespoon flour
1 cup whole milk, maybe a bit more
Black pepper
1 fresh bay leaf
A little grated allspice
3/4 cup of grated Montasio or Parmigiano cheese
½ cup homemade dry breadcrumbs, not too finely ground

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Get out an approximately 8-by-11-inch low-sided baking dish (I used a similar size Le Creuset), and rub the inside with a little olive oil.

Make sure the chard is well chopped and slightly damp. In a big sauté pan, heat about a tablespoon or so of olive oil over medium flame. Add the shallot and the garlic, and let them soften for about 30 seconds. Add the chard, seasoning with salt, black pepper, and nutmeg, and sauté until the chard collapses and is tender, about 5 minutes. Pour off excess liquid, and add the marjoram and the pine nuts. Spoon the chard into the baking dish.

To make the besciamella, melt the butter over medium heat in a saucepan. Add the flour, and whisk until smooth. Let bubble a few seconds to burn off the raw flour taste. Then add the milk, the salt, pepper, bay leaf, and allspice, letting it all slowly heat through, whisking frequently. Keep whisking until the sauce is bubbling and thickened. Turn off the heat, and add 1/2 cup of the Montasio, stirring it in to melt. It should be thick but pourable, so stir in a drizzle more milk, if needed, to loosen it.  Pour this over the chard, and mix it around to blend it in.

Mix the remaining Montasio with the breadcrumbs and a little olive oil, and season with salt and black pepper. Sprinkle over the top of the gratin.

Bake until the top is lightly browned and the edges are bubbling, 20 minutes or so. Let rest about 5 minutes before serving, just so it sets up.




Chicken, by Ernest Goh.


Recipes below: Lasagnette with Chicken Livers and Woody Herbs; Chicken Giblet Salad

I am the queen of no waste. Or I try to be. Actually, I’m not always a success with it. I have an inbred problem of cooking too much food.  It’s something I got from my mother, who always anticipated a few extra guests coming through the door (and it was often true). Huge bowls of salad were her specialty. Mine is pounds of pasta. The big bowl of leftover ziti or cavatelli sits in my refrigerator for days, until its contents are glued into a cold, leaden mass. A terrible waste. I need to get a grip on that. But one thing I am truly up with is using all the things stuffed inside chickens. I’m talking about the giblets—the neck, gizzard, heart, and liver.

The neck I roast with the chicken. It adds flavor to the gravy and is just good for eating.  The gizzard, heart, and liver sometimes go into a hangover salad, a dish I discovered in the Catskills several decades ago. We used to weekend at a funky inn called La Duchesse Anne. It was run by Martine, a prickly but increasingly friendly (the more time we spent there) woman from Brittany. We loved the place and were beyond sad when it burned down in 1996.  Its menu offered some adventurous French dishes, and chicken giblet salad was one of them. We’d stagger downstairs on a Sunday afternoon, disoriented and headachy from a night of Pernod, wine, duck fat, and calvados (and sometimes cigarettes, back then). For brunch we could order crêpes filled with eggs, ham, and gruyère, but what most spoke to me was that giblet salad. It was a plate of mustardy greens topped with crispy bits of chicken gizzard, heart, and liver. It, along with coffee and a glass of Côtes du Rhône, was extremely restorative. Martine knew what she was doing. I make it at home sometimes. It’s a great way to use up giblets, if I’m not throwing them into stock (although I never use the liver for that; it turns stock bitter).

I  also save livers in the freezer. When I get a good bag full, I almost always make my other favorite giblet dish, pasta with chicken livers ( but first I pull one out for the cats, who like it sautéed in sweet butter, no salt). I make this pasta in different styles, depending on my mood and the season. It can be elegant, with grappa and leeks and finished with crème fraîche, or I can go rustico and do a Southern Italian tomato thing, with garlic, oregano, and a hit of peperoncino. I’ve used fresh egg pasta at times, or even rigatoni, depending. Here’s a recipe that falls somewhere in between glamour and comfort. Perfect for a winter night. If you like chicken livers, I think you’ll find this flavor mix brilliant. And below it there’s a recipe for my giblet salad.

Lasagnette with Chicken Livers and Woody Herbs

(Serves 4 as a main course)

Extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium leeks, well rinsed and cut into small dice, using only the white and tender green parts
Black pepper
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
About 4 large sprigs of rosemary, the leaves well chopped
6 large sprigs of thyme, the leaves lightly chopped
4 allspice, ground to a powder
A big splash of dry white wine
1 35-ounce can plum tomatoes, drained and then well chopped
½ cup chicken broth, or possibly a little more
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
¾ pound chicken livers, trimmed and cut into medium chunks
A pinch of sugar
A splash of cognac or brandy
1 pound lasagnette
5 or 6 sage leaves, cut into chiffonade
A chunk of pecorino Toscana cheese for grating

In a large sauté pan, drizzle about 2 tablespoons of good, fruity olive oil. Add the leeks, and sauté until softened, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper. Add the garlic, rosemary, thyme, and allspice, and sauté a minute longer, just to open up their flavors. Add the splash of white wine, and let it bubble a few seconds. Add the tomatoes and the chicken stock, and simmer for about 6 minutes. Turn off the heat.

In a large sauté pan, over high heat, melt a tablespoon of butter and a drizzle of olive oil. Dry the chicken liver chunks well. When the oils are hot, add the livers, seasoning them with salt, pepper, and a pinch of sugar, and sear until well browned on one side, about a minute. Turn and brown the other side, about a minute longer. Add the splash of cognac or brandy, but watch out for flare-ups. If you get a big burst of flame, just turn off the heat and let the alcohol burn off. The livers should still be pink in the center. Pour them and any pan juices into the tomato sauce.

In a big pot of salted, boiling water, start cooking the lasagnette.

When the pasta is al dente, drain it, keeping a little water clinging to it, and pour it into a large, warmed serving bowl. Add a tablespoon of butter and a drizzle of fresh olive oil, the sage, and a few big gratings of the pecorino. Toss gently. Pour on the chicken liver sauce, and toss again, adding a little more chicken broth if it seems dry. Bring it to the table with the chunk of pecorino for grating.

* * *

Chicken Giblet Salad

To make two servings you’ll need the giblets from two chickens, cut into bite-size pieces and patted dry. Take two generous handfuls of bitter greens such as escarole, chicory, arugula, endive, a nice mix, and toss them, along with a few thin slices of shallot, with a mustard vinaigrette (a gentle blend of Dijon mustard, good olive oil, and a drizzle of sherry vinegar, plus salt and pepper). Plate that. Next put a tablespoon or so of butter in a sauté pan and get it hot over high heat. Add the giblets, seasoning them with salt and black pepper, and sauté them until just browned, shaking the pan a bit so they cook evenly. This should take only a minute or so. Then add a splash of brandy or cognac to the pan, and let it flame out. Spoon the giblets over the salad, and finish with a sprinkling of fresh herbs. I like a mix of parsley and tarragon or thyme. If you want, add warm, boiled, halved baby Yukons to the salad. A nice touch. Eat the salad really hot, with a warm baguette and a glass whatever wine appeals to you (you truly can go white or red here).

Women with Fish

Le-Leah, Leah, Le-Leah, Leah
Here I go
From the hut to the boat to the sea
For Leah
Ah-hah I gotta go diving in the bay
Gotta get a lot of oysters find some pearls today
To make a pretty necklace for Leah
I’ve gotta go deep and find the ones just right
I’ll bet my Leah’ll be surprised tonight
I’ll place the pearls around the only girl for me
But something’s wrong I cannot move around
My leg is caught it’s pulling me down
But I’ll keep my hand shut tight for if they find me
They’ll find the pearl for Leah
And now it’s over I’m awake at last
Old heartaches and memories from the past
It was just another dream about my lost love
‘Bout Le-e-ah
Le-Leah, Leah, Le-Leah, Leah
Here I go
Back to sleep and in my dreams I’ll dream
With Leah, Leah, Le-ah

Portrait of a Baker, Terentius Nero, and His Wife, from the walls of Pompeii. I wonder if he used measuring spoons.

Recipe below: Olive Oil Yogurt Cake with Cardamom

For two reasons I don’t do elaborate baking. First, I have almost no sweet tooth. I know that’s odd for a daughter of the land of cannoli. All my empty calories come from wine, and wine seems to squelch my desire for sugar. Second, I get anxious when I have to measure precisely. I have an aversion to measuring cups and spoons, especially ⅓ and ¼ cup measures. And ¼ teaspoon also agitates me. Is there a ⅛ teaspoon measure? I hope not. I avoid preparations where I think I’ll have to deal with any of those things. And don’t get me started on scales.

Despite all that, I do a lot of baking. I get around my issues by choosing things that aren’t super sweet and, more important, will forgive me if I want to just wing it. I cook up sweet and savory tortes and all sorts of biscotti. I love farmhouse-type Italian cakes, like ciambelle, that are usually made in a bundt pan. And I often bake what in my family we call breakfast cakes, which means you can eat them at any time of the day. For those I most often use a big springform pan. Olive oil is my fat of choice. Those cakes tend toward white, not chocolate. I vary them by adding orange flower water, lemon zest, vanilla, almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, blueberries, pears, grappa, nutmeg, allspice, black pepper, star anise, cinnamon, or the cardamom and coriander seed I chose for this version.

Yogurt is a good thing to include in a breakfast cake. It adds moisture and a faint sourness that’s almost undetectable but pulls it away from birthday cake world. Same with olive oil. It lightens it up and produces a puffy texture that I love. I always choose a fruity extra-virgin one without a lot of bitter.

I like to use this and other simple cakes (such as my olive oil polenta variation) as points of departure for improvisation. For instance if you omit the spices here and instead add a drizzle of orange flower water and some orange zest and up the vanilla a bit, you’ll get something that tastes a little like a ricotta Easter cake. So play around.

Olive Oil Yogurt Cake with Cardamom

2 cups pastry flour
A big pinch of salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cardamom (or a little less if freshly ground)
1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
A few grindings of black pepper
2 large eggs
1 cup whole-milk plain yogurt (I prefer brands that are not too sharp and have the cream on top, like Brown Cow)
1 cup sugar (or a little extra if you like things sweeter)
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus a drizzle more for the pan (a fruity oil, not a biting Tuscan type)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
A splash of cognac or grappa

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Smear a little olive oil inside a 10-inch springform pan.

Put the flour in a big bowl. Add the baking powder, salt, and all the spices. Give it all a good stir.

Put the yogurt, eggs, and sugar into the bowl of a standing mixer (or use a hand mixer). Mix until they’re light and a little fluffy, about a minute or so. Add the flour gradually, until just mixed in. Then pour in the olive oil, vanilla, and cognac, mixing them until they’re just blended, maybe about 10 seconds.

Pour the batter into the pan, and bake it until its top is lightly browned and its center feels springy to the touch, about 35 to 40 minutes.

My Amaro


It was about a year and a half ago, early in the fall, that I began thinking about making amaro. I had been drinking more of it than before. Bars were carrying a dozen brands, when previously if I asked for amaro, the barkeep most often had had no idea what I was talking about. Or if she understood, she pulled out the bottle of Sicilian Averna that was familiar from my father’s booze shelf. The sweetly severe staple of my parents’ dinner parties was now trending.

Amaro is Italian for bitter. It’s upfront taste is of bitter herbs.  I was always told it was a digestivo, which had to contain bitter something or it wouldn’t work. Some mornings I had watched my grandfather chug down some Fernet-Branca, a particularly strong amaro, mixed with a raw egg. I had found that fascinating and ghastly. He said it helped. Helped what? That was before I had experienced my first hangover. And it’s not just the Italians who are into bitter digestivi. The French make something similar called amer, and Germany has its version, too. What exactly are those bitter herbs? I Googled “amaro” and learned that gentian root is often the base flavor. I had a feeling. But secondary bittering agents can go into a good amaro, too. Complicated. A little spooky, even.

And as the Internet proved, some people do make their own amaro. I knew how I wanted mine to taste, patterning it after the lighter, more citrusy French amers I had recently sampled. I especially loved one called (I have no idea why) China China. No Fernet for me. I eased up on the punishing roots, adding more citrus and mellow spices. I wasn’t sure what my soft tones would be, so I studied various online recipes, all of which differed wildly, and pulled together what I thought would be an interesting jumble of flavors.

I added all my choices, bitter, mellow, acidic, and woodsy, to a big glass jar filled with vodka and hoped for the best. Some commercial brands, and even some homemade amari, have as many as thirty ingredients. That seemed overkill. I chose ten. Then I put my jar to sleep for a month, shaking it when I passed by. The aroma was powerful even after a few weeks—and familiar, too. It smelled like amaro, but without the sugar.

Then I added sugar, but not straight sugar, as some recipes instructed. I made a dark caramel, which adds sweetness but also, more important, infuses the amaro with another layer of bitter (burnt sugar is really bitter). It also deepens the color, in this case producing a rich burnt-orangey red.

After another month or so of rest, my amaro emerged as a complex but pleasantly bitter liqueur, with citrus and mellow tones from vanilla, anise hyssop, and lots of other roots and spices. It was so right on, I couldn’t believe it. It was exactly what I had wanted but had never dreamed I could create. I brought it out after dinner for friends. Gave it away at cooking classes. It was a hit. I was so jacked up, I felt like an instant amaro genius. I even had labels made. I loved this amaro. I’d go down to the basement at 3 a.m. just to sniff it in, maybe to give the jars another little shake. People urged me to go ahead and market it. And then things started to go wrong.

I took it around to several Hudson Valley distillers for a taste. One of them was particularly intrigued, but he said it would be expensive to produce. Also, New York distillers, most of them, legally needed their booze to contain about 75 percent locally grown ingredients. I could use their artisanal vodka as a base (made from upstate apples, in one case), but the rest of the flavorings were oddball roots and spices that weren’t local. And the oranges and lemons obviously weren’t either.

I didn’t get an immediate taker, but the interest in my amaro got me eager to make bigger amounts. I thought I’d need to, if I ever truly wanted to take it to market. So I tripled the recipe, realizing instinctively that some ingredients shouldn’t be tripled, the sugar, I imagined, but also, possibly, my bitter roots. This was incredibly difficult. I researched how to increase sugar in various types of drinks, but I didn’t find much useful information. So, I used my best judgment. And then I waited, tasting the batch before adding my caramel. It seemed harsh, but I wasn’t too worried, assuming it just needed time. Two months later, when it was pretty much done, the taste was all wrong.  The bigger recipe had produced an unblended, overly alcoholic, too sweet liquor, with odd jolts of sweet spice and unfocused bitter. I had lost my bearings.

I was upset but not deterred. So I made another big batch, a more educated batch, but I wound up with basically the same problems. Exasperating. Ultimately, I had two big glass jugs of unsalvageable amaro that had been sitting in my basement untouched for six months, haunting me. I needed to take action.


And away it goes . . .

So last weekend I did what I had been wanting but fearing to do. I dumped it all down the sink. The aroma coming up from the drain was eye-stinging but kind of gorgeous. Had I made a mistake? Was the stuff actually okay? I think I’m sure it wasn’t, and in any case now it’s gone.

And then I made another batch, a small batch, using my original recipe.  Hopefully I’ll get my amaro back. This time I plan to keep it small and in-house. Wish me luck. And then maybe someday . . .

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Julia Child and Richard Olney relaxing in Provence.

It’s February 1st. A dark day. Not as cold as it has been, but still cold, and damp now, too. Black puffy coats keep passing by my window. Seems like a good time to start my yearly dead-of-winter cookbook scan, searching my shelves for some light. My eyes pass over the titles. Where do I want to go? This Tunisian one might lift my mood. Too bad it’s written in French. And all the books are jammed in so tight I can hardly pull one out without ripping off my fingernails. So,instead of dealing with that mess, I grab one of the oversize books I shove in horizontally on top. The one I’m drawn to has a cover photo of sun-dappled red geraniums, a plate of long pink radishes with their leafy tops, a loaf of rustic bread, a bottle of wine, a dish of some great looking pâté, and one of those big, yellow glazed confit-type pots, all on a perfectly faded pale green bench. Pretty damned charming. Looks really warm there, too. But why is it so cold in my apartment?

So I’m flipping through the super sunny looking Provence the Beautiful Cookbook, written by the not always so sunny Richard Olney. For a coffee table–type book, this one’s full of excellent recipes and serious information. It would have to be, written by Olney, who lived in the South of France and put more creative energy into the area’s cooking than Julia Child was capable of (sorry, Julia).

I am really missing good tomatoes right now, as that book is certainly driving home. I’d love some stuffed vegetables, and I don’t mean cabbage. Tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, sweet peppers. The aromatic ratatouille will have to wait. There are a lot of omelettes in the book. Maybe too many. But they all look runny ripe. If it’s not thrown into an omelette, it’s cooked into a gratin. I love a good gratin. Olney was a pro at improvising with leftovers, making the old seem new again. I’m not sure how he talked his editor into including six salt cod recipes in this glamorous book, but there they are. Nice soups, too, although most look like they’re studded with fresh tomato concasse, especially the clear soup, with its dots of red, a raw egg dropped into the middle, and a grating of hard cheese. So perfect for a cool summer night. I want that right now, but making it with canned tomatoes would just feel so wrong.

Page after page of sun-splashed ochre, Van Gogh yellow, burnt orange, bright orange, sea blue, and washed gray-green on shutters and lawn chairs. So much age-softened paint. Glasses full of red wine and rosé wine, set out in full daylight. You’d think nobody ate at night in Olney’s world. Bloomy cheeses on big green leaves. Piles of zucchini blossoms, tubs of impossibly red mini strawberries. Rosemary growing out of every ancient stone wall. Even the tripe looks light and airy. The annoyingly gorgeous photos of food and foliage were making me miserable. I closed the book and thought about dinner.

I walked through Westside Market, trying to decide what to buy, and everything looked deflated. The fish department smelled horrible. The tomatoes looked good but smelled weirdly like grapefruits. There was a whole wall of breakfast cereal. I had to get out of there. I walked a few blocks down to Citarella, hoping for fresh inspiration. The fish looked a million times better. A nice hunk of tuna got me thinking of a tuna and artichoke recipe I had admired in the Olney book, and the picture of a brothy bowl of it on a lichen-covered stone. The giant globe artichokes felt decent. I would pretend it was springtime. I bought the artichokes and the fish. I couldn’t remember what else was in the recipe, but I figured I had the basics covered. Mission pretty much accomplished. Provence the beautiful in cold, dirty Manhattan.

I sort of followed Olney’s recipe, but I cut the tuna cooking time down to keep the fish really tender. I added pancetta, because I add it to almost everything. I also included a marjoram pesto, just because I was craving fresh herbs so much in the cold, and Citarella had marjoram, a rarity. I wound up with a good dish, both rustic and elegant. A real mood changer. Thank you, Mr. Olney. It was just what I needed on this dead of winter night.

Braised Tuna and Artichokes with a Marjoram Pesto

(Serves 4)

Extra-virgin olive oil
1¾ pounds tuna steak, about 1½ inches thick, skinned and cut into 2-inch chunks
1 fresh bay leaf
The zest from 1 lemon
3 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly smashed
Freshly ground black pepper
2 thin slices pancetta, chopped
4 large artichokes, trimmed and quartered (see below) and placed in a bowl of cold water with the juice of 1 large lemon
1 large shallot, cut into small dice
½ cup dry white wine
5 canned plum tomatoes, drained and then well chopped
½ cup chicken broth, possibly a little more

For the pesto:

The leaves from about 10 large marjoram sprigs
A large handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves (about ¾ cup)
1 small (unsprouted) garlic clove, roughly chopped
A small handful of whole, blanched almonds, roughly chopped
Extra-virgin olive oil

Trim the artichokes Italian-style—that is, the way big artichokes are always done in Italian restaurants: First set up a bowl of cold water with the juice of a large lemon. Working with one artichoke at a time, rip off and discard all the tough leaves until you get down to the tender light green ones (be thorough about this, so you don’t wind up with any tough bites). Slice off the tough stem ends, leaving about ½ inch of tender stem. Slice about ½ inch off the top of the artichoke, leaving just the bottom sections of the leaves. Peel the tough skin off the stem. Quarter the artichoke lengthwise, and cut out from each piece the fuzzy choke and any spiky, purplish leaves. You should end up with four arched, hollowed-out artichoke pieces. Drop them in the water, and repeat with the other artichokes.

Marinate the tuna: Place the fish in a shallow glass or ceramic bowl (sometimes metal can give fish an off taste). Pour over it about ¼ cup of olive oil, enough just to coat the fish well all over. Add the bay leaf, lemon zest, and garlic cloves, and grind on a generous amount of black pepper. Mix the whole thing with your hands so the flavors are evenly distributed. Let it sit for about a half hour.

Make the pesto: Set up a medium-size pot of water, and bring it to a boil. Drop in the marjoram and parsley leaves, and blanch them for about 30 seconds. Scoop them from the water with a large strainer spoon, and place them in a colander. Run cool water over them to stop their cooking and to preserve their green color. Squeeze all the water out of the herbs. This blanching will prevent them from oxidizing and turning dark as the pesto sits, always a danger with pesto. Place the garlic and pine nuts in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse a few times until they’re roughly ground. Add the blanched herbs and enough olive oil to create a rich texture (about ⅓ cup). Season with a little salt, and pulse a few more times until everything is blended but still has a bit of texture to it. Transfer the pesto to a small bowl, and press a piece of plastic wrap over the top to keep it nice and green.

Choose a large skillet that has a lid and is big enough to hold the tuna and artichokes in one layer. Over medium heat, add the pancetta and about 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet, and sauté until the pancetta is crisp, about 4 minutes. Drain the artichoke pieces well, and add them and the shallot to the skillet. Season with a little salt, and sauté until both vegetables are lightly browned, about another 10 minutes. Add the tuna chunks and all the marinade, and sauté on one side until lightly golden. Turn the tuna pieces, season them with a bit more salt, and add the white wine, letting it boil away. Add the tomatoes and the chicken broth, and heat them through. Turn the heat to low, and cook at a simmer, covered, until the tuna and the artichokes are just tender, only about another 5 minutes. Add a little more broth, if needed, to be sure you have about an inch of liquid left in the pan. Turn off the heat, and let the dish sit for about 5 minutes before serving it (to give all the flavors a chance to blend).

Serve in soup bowls with a generous spoonful of pesto on top of each portion. Accompany with toasted baguette slices that have been rubbed with garlic and brushed with olive oil.