Do you like anchovies?
When I was younger my mom would always order pizza with anchovies, and I used to hate it, but since then learned to like it. It was only during the last few years that my tastebuds were opened to the wonderful, salty world of anchovies. Sure, I like it on pizza, and yes of course, I love Caesar salads. But my favorite way to eat anchovies now is with pasta.
Now I really, really, really like anchovies.
Usually I make some version of pasta aglio olio – with olive oil, garlic, and anchovies that melt into the oil. Recently I remembered a couple of recipes that I bookmarked from The Amateur Gourmet (one of the very first food blogs I followed, and still one of my favorites) and decided to make my own Spicy Anchovy Pasta with Broccoli.
There are two things that are different about this recipe: the first is adding the garlic and anchovies after cooking the broccoli (usually, anchovies are broken up and melted into the cooking oil). The second is adding a splash of cold olive oil right before serving.
The original recipes called for fennel seeds and capers. I didn’t have either so I ignored those.
1/2 lb whole wheat pasta (I like fusilli)
4 cups broccoli
1 tin anchovies
8 garlic cloves, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (adjust to your liking. I used a little bit more)
salt and pepper to taste
shaved Parmesan cheese, for finishing
Cook pasta according to package directions. Before draining the pasta, make sure to reserve 1/4 cup pasta cooking water.
While pasta is cooking, prepare your bowl of deliciousness: chop up the garlic and anchovies, and combine in a small bowl with the red pepper flakes.
In a large pan, heat two tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the broccoli and leave for a few minutes until it gets a little crispy and brown. The secret to caramelizing broccoli is to not move it around so much. So just let the florets hang out and toss just a couple of times. Season with salt and pepper.
When the broccoli is done cooking, add half of the garlic and anchovy mix. Just half. Stir for about 30 seconds to a minute (this is where you’ll see the anchovies melting) then add some of the reserved pasta water. Continue cooking everything together for a couple more minutes, then add the cooked pasta to the pan.
Now add the remaining half of the garlic and anchovy mix, and toss to make sure it’s distributed evenly. Yes, you will have raw garlic and anchovies. No, it’s not gross.
Take the pan off the heat and add a splash of olive oil. Toss some more, put a heaping serving on a plate, top with shaved Parmesan cheese, and enjoy.
If you are wary about adding the chopped garlic and anchovies at the end, you can add the whole bowl after the broccoli cooks, before adding the pasta to the pan. But as I already mentioned, I really like anchovies, and doing the two-step process really intensifies the spicy anchovy flavor.
What’s your favorite way to eat anchovies?