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  • Octopus In Tomato and Garlic Sauce (Agliata)

    Agliata is a garlic sauce found in different versions around Italy. It is believed to be of Ligurian origin and likely came to Sardinia during the period when the island was ruled by Genoa. The name of the sauce comes from the Italian word for garlic, aglio, since the sauce has a strong base of garlic. Sardinian agliata is unique in that it is made with tomatoes and red wine vinegar. In the past, it was used by fishermen to preserve the catch of the day, especially when it was imperfect and less likely to sell. The fishermen would take agliata with them on the boat; the vinegar and garlic content of the sauce preserved the fish beautifully.

    I first tasted agliata in one of my favorite restaurants in Sardinia, Trattoria Cavour (now Trattoria Lo Romani) in Alghero. The sauce was tangy and complex, a perfect complement for the boiled octopus. Vittoria, a co-owner of the restaurant, told me that she makes it with both fresh and sundried tomatoes, which explains the richness and depth of flavor. Some Sardinians make it only with fresh or canned tomatoes, but I like the richness the sundried tomatoes give it. Agliata can be used as a complement for any fish, but I like to serve it with octopus. The octopus in agliata pairs perfectly with a high-acid Sardinian rosato, such as Argiolas Serra Lori.

    • 3 quarts (2.84 L) water
    • 1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more, to taste
    • 1 pound (454 g) baby octopus*
    • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    • 5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
    • 4 sundried tomatoes, soaked in water for 15 minutes, drained, and chopped
    • 1 (14-ounce [397-g]) can whole tomatoes, chopped
    • ¼ cup (59 mL) red wine vinegar

    1.In a medium (8- to 12-quart [7.6- to 11.4-L]) stockpot, bring to a boil the water and 1 teaspoon of salt. Add the octopus and cook over medium heat for at least 1½ hours, until tender. The octopus should yield easily when pierced with a fork.

    2.Drain the octopus and let cool to room temperature. Cut the octopus into bite-sized pieces and set aside.

    3.In a medium (4- to 5-quart [3.8- to 4.7-L]) sauté pan, warm the oil and garlic over medium-low heat until the garlic starts to sizzle. Add the sundried tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes.

    4.Add the canned tomatoes with their juice and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until the sauce starts to thicken.

    5.Raise the heat to medium and add the vinegar. Cook for 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 10 minutes, adjusting the seasoning to taste. Cool to room temperature.

    6.In a serving bowl, combine the octopus and sauce, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and chill for at least 2 hours (and up to 2 days). Serve chilled.

    *If the octopus is frozen, do not thaw it.


Copyright © 2013 Viktorija Todorovska All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without express written permission from the publisher.

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