By Barbara Beltrami
Even if you are not one of those people who insists on anchovies for their pizza topping, please read on because those tiny, salty little fillets that come in that hard-to-open tin can be judiciously included as an ingredient to enhance taste in many recipes.
While most anchovy recipes that I’ve tried are Italian ones, it logically follows that they can be found in any Mediterranean cuisine. Think of them as part of an antipasto platter, in a “midnight pasta” with olive oil and garlic, as a focal ingredient in bagna càuda, on a crostini, adding zing to otherwise bland sautéed greens or as a topping on flatbread.
Still not convinced? Then try anchovy cream or paste which comes in a tube and squeeze a little on a piece of grilled Italian bread anointed with olive oil or try the recipes below. And don’t forget, it’s anchovies that make a classic Caesar salad one of your favorites.
YIELD: Makes 2 to 4 servings
1/3 cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves, mashed into a paste
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
One 2-ounce tin anchovy fillets, mashed into a paste
4 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter
1/2 pound thin spaghetti
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add crushed red pepper flakes and anchovy and with back of wooden spoon incorporate into garlic and oil. Cook, constantly stirring, one to two minutes. Reduce heat to low and stir in butter. Meanwhile, bring large pot of water to boil, add salt to taste, add spaghetti and cook according to package directions until al dente. Drain and transfer to skillet, add parsley, toss with garlic-anchovy mixture and serve immediately with a tomato salad.
YIELD: Makes 6 servings
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 stick unsalted butter
12 anchovy fillets
6 garlic cloves, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 carrots, peeled and cut into sticks
3 celery ribs, cleaned and cut into sticks
12 bite-size cauliflower florets
1 green bell pepper, seeded, cut into 12 strips
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips
12 wedges fennel bulb
1 crusty French baguette, sliced
In a food processor or blender make an emulsion of the oil, butter, anchovies, garlic, salt and black pepper; transfer mixture to a medium saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally. Pour into fondue pot or flame proof casserole over alcohol burner. Place veggies on a large plate encircling pot and have guests dip them into the oil mixture, being sure to scrape the bottom and hold over bread slices to catch the drips. Serve with a dry white wine.
Anchovy and Egg Crostini
YIELD: Makes 8 servings
16 half- inch thick slices French baguette
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
16 anchovy fillets
Scant tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Freshly ground white pepper to taste
4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup freshly snipped chives
1/4 cup chopped dill
Preheat broiler or grill on high setting. Brush one side of each slice of bread with a little of the oil and place, oiled side down, on baking sheet or grill and toast on one side, until golden brown, about one minute. Remove from heat, place grilled side down on a platter. In medium bowl, mash anchovies with back of a fork and combine with the remaining oil, lemon juice and pepper; add egg slices and gently toss them with the mixture, then spread them on toasted bread slices. Scatter chives and dill on top. Serve with prosecco.