Anchovy paste (Recipe: Sicilian-style spaghetti)
When a recipe calls for anchovies, do you wrinkle your nose, give a little shudder, and quickly skip to the next page in the cookbook?
Or, do you love anchovies, but always end up with half a can hiding in the back of the fridge, turning into another life form altogether by the time you remember it's there?
Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to anchovy paste in a tube.
Anchovies are small silver fish, 5-8 inches long, native to the Mediterranean and popular in the cuisines of that region. A member of the herring family, anchovies are sold whole, packed in salt, or filleted and canned in olive oil. After the tin is opened, anchovy fillets, even when stored in an airtight container, won't last more than a couple of weeks in the refrigerator.
Anchovy paste is anchovy fillets that have been ground to a tomato-paste consistency, and blended with salt and a small bit of sugar. One half teaspoon of anchovy paste equals two anchovy fillets from a tin. The paste is slightly saltier, so be sure to adjust the salt called for in your recipe. Once opened, the tube should be stored in the refrigerator, where it will happily sit for up to a year.
Anchovies' main contribution to cuisine is a robust saltiness. Anchovy paste gives you all of that taste, but without the little bits of skin and bone, all edible and yet so fish-like, that come with anchovy fillets.
Adapted from Tyler's Ultimate, by Tyler Florence, the original recipe calls for roasted cauliflower, which is my very least favorite vegetable, and anchovy fillets. I think turkey meatballs might be a nice addition. Serves 4.
1 large bunch of broccoli, stems trimmed, cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp anchovy paste
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted in a dry frying pan for 2-3 minutes
1/2 cup panko
Fresh black pepper
1 lb spaghetti
2-3 tsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for serving
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the spaghetti.
Put the broccoli into a sauté pan with half of the olive oil, and the anchovy paste. Heat over medium heat until the oil is hot. Add 1/4 cup water and season with salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, cover, and steam the broccoli for about 5 minutes until just tender; uncover and cook for an additional 5-7 minutes, until the water has evaporated and the broccoli browns in the oil. Add the raisins and pine nuts and toss just to warm them through. Take the pan off the heat and cover with a lid to keep warm.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F. On a baking sheet, drizzle the panko with 2-3 Tbsp of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat the crumbs with the oil and spread out in an even layer; bake until lightly browned and crunchy, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
When the water comes to a boil, get your spaghetti cooking; stir to separate the strands and cook for 8-9 minutes, until al dente.
You're almost finished now. Drain the spaghetti and dump it into a bowl. Add a teaspoon or two of olive oil, and toss. Dump the broccoli mixture over the spaghetti, add the parsley and lemon juice, and fold it all together. Divide among 4 plates. Dust with the toasted panko and the cheese, and serve.