Thursday, November 29, 2007
The Tiniest Fish in the Sea
Did you know that anchovies are good for your health? It's true! These little guys are riddled with healthy omega-3 fatty acids and they're really low in calories. No wait, I know what you're thinking--"But Laura, those little stinkers are smelly and salty. I hate them. Always have, always will." Well, this is the recipe that will bring you over to the dark side my friend. These little guys are more than the world's least popular pizza topping. They're also good for dressings (Cesar is a classic one) and my favorite application, sauces. They're also a much healthier and natural way of salting your food.
Like so many things we keep in our pantry's, anchovies have improved vastly over the years and no longer come packed only in salt or brine. I really like the ones that come in pure extra virgin olive oil because they're far less salty, and if you can find them jarred instead of canned you can keep them in the fridge if you haven't used the whole jar. The reason most people are frightened of anchovies is because they haven't actually tasted them cooked, they've just had them out of a tin barely even rinsed. When they're cooked through and dissolved though, especially in butter or olive oil like in this recipe, they take on a much smoother, almost nutty flavor. As a matter of fact, you may have had them in a sauce at a restaurant and not have noticed--it's that vast a difference in flavor. Ha! So there, now you have no excuses.
And as a plus, you can make this dish with any leftover vegetables you have. I had some green beans and mushrooms on their last legs so I decided to make a nice wheat pasta dish with them, but feel free to use asparagus, artichokes, fresh tomatoes, olives, peas, whatever you have hanging out in your crisper or freezer. Now, you'll notice in the recipe that there is quite a bit of fat. Don't freak out, the olive oil and butter along with the anchovies make up all of the sauce, so it's not so bad. Trust me, this dish is GREAT on a summer day with a few extra lemon wedges and lemon zest. This makes for one BIG solo serving, so feel free to multiply. And you won't notice the anchovies. And neither will your friends--so don't tell them until they've licked their plates :) Here's how to go about fooling them:
Spaghetti with Vegetables and Anchovy Butter
1 1/2 cups chopped mushrooms
1 1/2 cups green beans (I chopped long beans)
4 Tbsp Olive oil
6 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 garlic clove, sliced thin
1/2 Tbsp parsley
1/2 tsp red pepper flake
1/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp sage
pepper (I prefer white pepper if you have it!)
1. Add pasta to boiling salted water and cook until done.
2. While the pasta cooks, add the olive oil, butter, garlic, anchovies and red pepper flake to a medium sized pan. When it starts to heat through and bubble add the mushrooms and green beans. Salt lightly if needed and add pepper, thyme and sage. If it starts to look dry and some oil or butter a Tablespoon at a time.
3. When the vegetables are almost all cooked through, add pasta to the pan. Cook for 3-5 minutes so flavors combine. If it looks dry, add some of the pasta water. Plate and top with parsley and red pepper flake. Drizzle some raw olive oil on top. Enjoy!
**Tip: Don't drain your pasta in a colander. Use tongs or a slotted spoon (tongs are better!) to add pasta to your final cooking vessel, and always cook the pasta with the sauce for a few minutes. If it needs some more liquid, your nice starchy cooking liquid will not have gone to waste and you can add some by the spoonful.