This recipe will require that you set aside your aversion to anchovies. But if you are up to the task, you will be richly rewarded.
It is unfortunate that so many people won't give these tiny little flavor bombs a fair chance. They effortlessly and quickly add such intense, savory — meaty! — flavor, they should be in regular rotation in any home kitchen, and particularly with any cook who struggles to get a great dinner on the table on a busy weeknight.
That said, I get it. Downing a whole fish — even a tiny one — is a turnoff for most people.
But that's why this recipe is perfect for you. The magic of anchovies — aside, that is, from not tasting even a little bit fishy -- is that when added to a hot skillet, they melt away, dissolving into a flavorful sauce reminiscent more of a steak than of the sea. And that is why they form the base of so many Italian sauces.
For this recipe, the goal was simplicity — a few simple, potent ingredients that would meld together in no time into a phenomenal sauce to toss with pasta. Try it. Give anchovies a chance and you won't regret it.
Gemilli Pasta With Anchovies and Breadcrumbs
Start to finish: 30 minutes. Servings: 4
Gemilli pasta — small twists — has a wonderful texture and does a great job of capturing the sauce in this recipe. But pasta is pasta, so use whatever shape you have or prefer.
1 pound gemilli pasta
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2-ounce tin oil-packed anchovies
8 cloves garlic, minced
2 large tomatoes, diced
Ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup coarse unseasoned breadcrumbs (such as panko)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 6 to 7 minutes. Reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking water, then drain and return the pasta to the pot. Drizzle the pasta with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, toss, then cover and set aside.
Meanwhile, in a large saute pan over medium-high, heat the olive oil. Add the anchovies and saute for 5 minutes, breaking them up with a silicone spatula until they dissolve into a paste. Add the garlic and saute for another minute, then add the tomato. Cook, stirring often, until the tomato begins to break down, about 7 minutes. Season with pepper. For a thinner sauce, stir in a bit of the reserved pasta cooking water.
Uncover the pasta and, while using tongs to toss, sprinkle in the breadcrumbs and Parmesan, tossing until evenly coated. Divide the pasta between 4 serving bowls, then spoon some of the sauce into the center of each. Top each serving with additional grated Parmesan.
Per serving: 730 calories; 210 calories from fat (29 percent of total calories); 23 g fat (6 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 25 mg cholesterol; 100 g carbohydrate; 5 g fiber; 6 g sugar; 30 g protein; 900 mg sodium.