The artichoke and other vegetables of western liguria
A spiny artichoke (Cynara scolymus L.) with violet bracts, its elongated, conical calatide is a green color with touches of violet. The thorny bracts form very early. In addition to the color, it is distinctive because of the consistency of the inner leaves , which are exceptionally tender, crunchy and sweet. It is perfect for eating raw, dipped into extra virgin olive oil (preferably Ligurian). The planting takes place in the summer when the ’bulbs’ are placed in well-worked soil, in little furrows 10-16 cm. deep. The crop is alternately hoed and irrigated throughout the summer. The plants begin bearing fruit in late autumn and continue until the spring.
The ’trumpet’ zucchini
This climbing plant bears long, light green fruit having veins of lighter green and the characteristic shape reminiscent of a trumpet. It is one of the long-lived squashes typical of the eastern Riviera (Savona, Albenga area, Imperia). The zucchini can be eaten fresh when they are about 30-40 cm long or, when fully ripe, preserved for months in a cool dry place to be used in various preparations.
Basil is native to Asia Minore. But the ideal growing conditions in the hills of Liguria bring out the best of its unique flavor and aroma not to be found elsewhere. It is sold fresh in bunches. Basil is typically used for pesto, a raw sauce that has become the emblem of Ligurian cuisine. Universally appreciated, basil is in such great demand that its cultivation, which was once confined to Liguria, has now spread to other parts of Italy as well.