Friday, May 7, 2010

Anchovies Not Optional

So I'm back from a brief travel hiatus, where I cooked nothing and ate quite a bit.

The object of our first meal back at home was to open the jar of pitted Kalamata olives I picked up a Trader Joe's. The commitment to making this happen was strong enough that I turned to the index in Everday Food's new compilation cookbook, Fresh Flavor Fast, and searched under the letter "O" for olive . Bingo. Spaghetti Puttanesca.

If you are short on time and motivation this is a fast, flavorful dish, as advertised. Read that and then read this: The anchovies are not optional. The recipe says they are, and I guess if you are really really opposed to using them, do what you have to do. But, I don't think the sauce would have been nearly as good without them in it. Plus, the stigma on anchovies has been waning over the past few years anyway.

Spaghetti Puttanesca

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound spaghetti
1 tablespoon olive oil (I used a tad more)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon, crushed red pepper flakes
6 anchovy fillets (Ours were packed in olive oil and we simply drained them.)
1 can (28 oz.) of whole peeled tomatoes in juice, or crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped

1. Bring a pot of water to a boil; add a generous amount of salt. Cook pasta until al dente according to packaged instructions. Drain pasta; return to pot.

2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium. Add garlic, red-pepper flakes and anchovies, mashing them with a wooden spoon. Cook stirring until fragrant but not turning brown, about 2 minutes. Break up tomatoes and add them to the pan along with their juice. Stirn in capers and olives. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until tomatoes are softened and sauce is thickened; stirring occasionally, 5-10 minutes.

3. Add sauce to pot, and toss with pasta to combine; season with salt and pepper. Reheat over medium-low if necessary before serving.

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