I am constantly amazed at how animated and talkative people get when you mention food. The mere aroma of certain foods can evoke memories that transport us back to a special place and time. Food can bridge the gap between all ages, races and ethnicities.
Let's face it, the only thing that should ever come between people is a table and some serving bowls.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Give Anchovies a Chance

All you have to do is say; “Anchovy” and most people immediately turn up their nose. They instantly associate them with those smelly little fish that have been the ruination of good pizza the world over. But did you know that anchovies are used in many authentic Italian dishes. Most of these dishes are extremely popular despite their use of the highly misunderstood little fish. Anchovies are loaded with flavor and really add a dramatic layer to many recipes. The key is the quality of the anchovy that you use and the quantity.
You can purchase anchovies in a variety of ways; “packed in salt (which must be soaked in water before using), cured (which are dried and sometimes smoked), packed in olive oil (one of the better choices for most recipes) and paste (comes in a tube just like toothpaste, also convenient for most cooking). Whichever you choose to use, remember that anchovies pack a powerhouse of flavor so you’ll only need to add a small amount to most recipes.

Pasta Puttanesca:

1/8-1/4 cup pancetta, finely diced
3 tablespoons olive oil
5-8 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 large can (approx 35oz) whole peeled Italian tomatoes
1 dozen oil-cured black olives, pitted and chopped
3 anchovies, finely mashed
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
a pinch red hot pepper flakes
2 tablespoons each fresh basil and oregano (If you don't have fresh herbs available, substitute 1/2 teaspoon each dry oregano and basil).
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Romano or Parmesan cheese
1 lb pasta( any variety you like), cooked according to package directions
salt and pepper, to taste

In a large skillet, sauté pancetta over low heat in olive oil until soft and translucent; bring heat up and allow to pancetta to brown slightly on edges.
Add garlic, oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, parsley and olives. Mash the anchovies well into the oil, using the tines of a fork. Add the can of whole tomatoes (including the juice in the can). Simmer over medium-low heat for 20 minutes or so, until the sauce begins to thicken slightly. Stir in wine vinegar during final 10-15 minutes of cooking. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Meanwhile, as sauce simmers, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions and drain.
In a large bowl, combine pasta with enough sauce to coat. Add a little of the pasta cooking water if sauce is too thick, or a teaspoon of olive oil. Sprinkle pasta with a little fresh parsley and cheese before serving.

1 comment:

Chris said...

I admit, I haven't given Anchovies their fair chance. Being Italian, I am sure I have had them - but ignorance has been bliss. I must get better...The recipe/picture looks great!