Sunday, January 31, 2010

Fish Rap

From the days of Bugs Bunny and Rocky & Bullwinkle all the way to Spongebob, anchovies have been the butt of jokes, the one item that people would exempt from their "pizza with everything." In short, anchovies were the fish that nobody loved.

Eventually, of course, I tried them and found they were salty and delicious and that I'd really been having them all along in that ubiquitous sauce called Worcestershire. It had made its way into everything from my mother's salad dressing to her tuna casserole and potato salad. It was the American version of umami before we knew there was such a thing. What a revelation!

So when our neighbors invited us to dinner a few years ago and served pasta with a simple but deeply flavorful sauce made of anchovies, garlic, walnuts and parsley, I sensed I'd found a new fascination. They've since been added to my go-to tomato sauce, as well as deviled eggs and more pasta dishes and dips than you can shake a spatula at.

Pasta with Anchovy, Garlic and Walnut Sauce

1 lb. spaghetti
6 clove garlic, chopped fine
1/2 c. olive oil
2 Tbsp. capers
1 can anchovy fillets*
1/2 c. finely chopped fresh parsley
1/2 c. chopped walnut

Boil large pot of salted water. Add spaghetti.

Sauté garlic in 1/4 c. olive oil (if anchovies are packed in olive oil, include that in the 1/4 c. oil) on low heat, making sure it doesn't brown. Add anchovies to garlic and cook till anchovies dissolve. Add rest of olive oil, capers, walnuts and parsley 2-3 min. before ready to serve. Toss with pasta, and serve with parmesan and fresh ground pepper on the side.

* If using salted anchovies, wash, debone, chop finely and add at same time as capers and walnuts.

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