As delicious as the swordfish was, it’s expensive and it doesn’t usually find its way into my cooking repertoire. My usual seafood picks are salmon and shrimp. While those are great choices (and there will be plenty of posts with recipes), I was also curious to branch out and try something new. There’s been a lot of buzz recently in some dietitian circles about the high cost of eating well, in particular, eating seafood. Anchovies are usually touted as a good choice to fit the bill. I made my first foray into the world of these hairy little things last week with the Nicoise salad, but what really motivated me to get going on this ingredient was a recipe I saw in Domencia Marchetti’s The Glorious Pasta of Italy cookbook.
I can’t remember the last time I bought a cookbook at full price – especially on a student’s budget and with Border’s going-out-of-business sale going on – but I picked this one up, sans discount or coupon, when I saw it at a boutique store in the neighborhood. Part of what attracted me to it was it’s accessible-looking penne and pepper dish in an anchovy sauce.
The anchovies in the sauce dissolve. Literally dissolve. You get oomph without overpowering brininess. So far, based on these two dishes, I’m impressed with anchovies. They’re really not as intimidating to work with as I thought they’d be. Because I didn’t want any of my tampering to influence the flavor of the anchovies, I made this one pretty much by the book, except I halved it for a more reasonable portion for David and me. And it was good. Make-again good. I think the only change I’d add next time is to increase the number of bell peppers used. They don’t really get incorporated into the sauce, and there was proportionally more pasta than peppers, but that’s an easy enough fix. As for the anchovies, I’m still going to keep experimenting. With only three anchovy fillets the flavor is great, but as a substitute for more expensive servings of seafood, the nutritional benefits got spread kinda thin.
Penne Rigate With Sweet Peppers and Anchovies
Minimally adapted from The Glorious Pasta of Italy by Domencia Marchetti
1 1/2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3 anchovy fillets in olive oil
2 Tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 red bell pepper (or 2), trimmed, seeded, and cut lengthwise into strips
1 yellow bell pepper, trimmed, seeded, and cut lengthwise into strips
1/2 pound dried penne pasta
1/4 cup shredded pecorino romano cheese
1) Heat olive oil and garlic in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Stir occasionally until the garlic is soft and fragrant, but not deeply colored, about 6 minutes. Stir in the anchovy fillets and 2 Tablespoons of parsley and saute briefly until the anchovies dissolve into the oil.
2) Increase the heat to medium and add the bell peppers, stirring to coat. Bring to a sizzle, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook 40 minutes, until the peppers are tender.
3) Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the penne to the water when there’s 10 minutes left for the peppers‘ cooking time. Cook according to the package instructions. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water and drain the pasta.
4) Transfer the pasta to the frying pan and gently toss with the sauce to combine. Sprinkle in half the cheese and the remaining parsely and toss to combine. Add the reserved cooking water, by spoonfuls, if it is dry. Plate the pasta and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.