A month or so back, Brianne sent me a link from the New York Times for a video by Mark Bittman that showed him cooking what looked to be a wonderful anchovy, tomato, garlic pasta. The comment was made: “This recipe with garlic, olive oil and anchovies (do I even like anchovies??) actually seems really yummy.” My memory of anchovies was the same kind he describes in the video, those cans that had the somewhat fun looking, but never the less boring little keys that you used to open them. My dad used to get them all the time and would eat them raw. Not exactly appetizing to my 8 year-old mind. Yet events conspired to change this opinion.
Yesterday at work, I saw that one of my coworkers had brought in a bucket of (not anchovies) Roma tomatoes. I picked up a few of them thinking I would make something with them. Then at the grocery store on the way home, I saw oil-packed anchovies. “Hmm”, I said, “I could make that recipe.” So I bought them, and I did. I hope you enjoy the chronicle below.
The original article can be found here. My slightly modified recipe is below.
- 1/8 Cup Extra Virgin olive oil
- 5 cloves garlic, peeled
- 10 anchovy fillets
- 2 Roma tomatoes, chopped into large chunks
- black pepper and salt
- Penne pasta
Normally when I make pasta dishes involving garlic, I mince the garlic (I use the peel, crush, chop method) and sweat that in oil. This recipe, however, calls for the cloves to be peeled and browned whole. I think this resulted in a very subtle garlic taste that was not quite strong enough for my liking. But I decided to follow the recipe as this was my first time. Before I started working with the sauce, I put a pot of salted water on the stove for the pasta.
I placed the oil in a saucepan and heated it on medium heat. Once the oil was warm (maybe a minute or so), I added the whole garlic cloves. The sizzled a little bit and did funny little dances as they slid around in the oil.
While the garlic was browning, I took the two Roma tomatoes and sliced off the stem ends and chopped them into large chunks. As some of you may know, I am not a raw tomato fan; they seem to me to be somehow underdone on the inside, like if you just left them on the vine longer, they would solidify. As such, I like Roma tomatoes quite a bit; they are more solid in the middle and have some more meat too them. I still don’t like them raw, but I don’t feel the need to cook the hell out of them either.
At this point, the garlic was, as Alton Brown would say, GBD (golden, brown, and delicious). Time for the anchovies. I was not prepared for the level of splattering that was going to occur. I should have had my splatter-guard at the ready, but I was more concerned about not getting oil on the lens of my camera. So my kitchen needs a bit more cleaning than normal right now. With a little bit of sizzle and stirring, the anchovies miraculously melted into the sauce. It was quite cool. And just as an observation, there was no fishy smell, you hardly even notice them.
Once the anchovies had dissolved, I tossed in the chopped tomatoes. As I did not have any hot peppers to add, I augmented the sauce with a little bit of Tabasco sauce. I also added some salt and pepper at this point.
I was basically done at this point; waiting on the pasta to finish cooking. I decided that I needed a glass of wine to complete this meal so I opened a bottle from Amaicha that was given to me by my friend Olga.
On the side, I had been preparing one of my standard sides that I love to have with pasta, cheesy-bread. This starts with a nice slice of good quality bread. One might think you would just place cheese on it and melt it in the toaster, but no. This results in soggy bread. The first step is to toast the bread, giving it a nice crunch outside. Then one can add cheese (in this case swiss) and allow it to melt. Then you have nice warm melted cheese, but the bread stays firm and chewy on the inside.
Once the pasta finished cooking, I strained it from the boiling water and added it into the sauce. I mixed everything up to make sure all the saucy goodness was on the pasta. I then plated the dressed pasta and was ready to go. As is my usual plan, I made more than I could eat, so I partitioned some off to save for later.
So that completed the meal; all that was left was to eat it. It was so horrible I had to eat every last piece of it and wipe up all the sauce with my bread. :) This is definitely a recipe I would suggest for anyone. The anchovies do not add a seafood flavor at all, they just serve to enhance the flavors of the rest of the dish. I think when I make this again, I may add a little less salt than I did, and possibly a little red wine to the sauce. But all in all, I think it came out very good and I look forward to the leftovers I have for lunch tomorrow.