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Awake at the Whisk: Anchovy Pasta

Monday, August 11, 2008


Anchovy Pasta

I’m not an anchovy girl, but my husband’s parents are from the East Coast, so he grew up eating the salty fish. He likes it on pizza, on sandwiches, as a snack—just about any way he can get it. Lately, I’ve seen several recipes for anchovy pasta and decided to attempt my own, using the bounty of vegetables fresh from my garden. It turned out quite delicious—my husband gobbled up all remaining leftovers, which he ate cold, like a pasta salad. It turned out to be a very versatile dish. If you don’t like anchovies, reduce the amount in the recipe to just a few as a base flavor. The fishy taste should cook out if you only use 2-3. This recipe, however, was made for big fans. The anchovy is very prominent, even though I used the softer-flavored white anchovies (they almost have a herring taste, though not quite as sweet). If you’re using regular anchovies, you’ll definitely want to cut back on the amount used or your dish will be overly salty.

1 each green, yellow, and red bell pepper, cut into large chunks
1 zucchini, cut into chunks
1 large, red onion cut into thick strips
1 eggplant, cut into chunks
1 bulb of garlic, minced
1 or 2 hot chili peppers, finely diced
15 white anchovy fillets, divided
¼-cup white wine
1-1 lb. package cooked pasta
1/3-cup plus 2 Tblsp. olive oil, divided
½-cup pasta water reserved from cooked pasta
1 or 2 sprigs fennel, cut with a scissors into ¼-inch bits
Salt & pepper to taste

Heat a very large sauté pan over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add 1 Tblsp. olive oil and sauté the veggies until tender crisp and the eggplant is cooked all the way through. Remove them from the pan and set them aside.

Add another 1 Tblsp. olive oil to the hot pan, and then add the garlic, chili peppers, and 5 anchovy slices. Allow the garlic to soften. The anchovies should fall apart as you stir. Add the white wine and cook for another 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the remaining anchovies into smaller chunks. Add the cooked pasta, olive oil, pasta water, anchovies, fennel, and salt and pepper. Return the veggies to the pan. Stir it all together and serve.

Tip: If you have any remaining anchovies in the jar, you can lay 2-3 full fillets on top of each serving of pasta.

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