"Ewwwww! What's that for?" my husband said as I tried (unsuccessfully) to bury a tiny tin of anchovies into the bag of groceries I was packing for our family getaway to the mountains.
"Don't worry about it," I said dismissively. But he wouldn't let up. "You're not cooking something with those, are you?" he said, his face contorted just like our three-year-old's when I try to serve her anything resembling a vegetable that's not a pea or a carrot.
"You'll like it!" I yelled. I tend to get a little testy when people complain about food they haven't even tried...just ask my kids.
Trust me, I don't like anchovies either. I'm not ordering them up on pizza or popping them in my mouth right out of the can. But in my adventures in cooking, I've learned that a teeny weeny bit of anchovy can add some yummy brininess to a dish without making it taste fishy. And when my husband finally tasted the end result: "Spaghetti with Anchovy Carbonara," he admitted he'd judged the little fishies too hastily. My four-year-old even declared it delicious and polished off her whole bowl!
In a recent issue of Food & Wine magazine, I came across a recipe for carbonara that actually looked healthy, not to mention tasty and simple to prepare. I tore it out and took it along on my family's weekend in Flagstaff, where we were planning to spend our time snuggled up in front of a fire, cooking and eating a lot. I wanted to make something that would be comforting, warm, and filling. This fit the bill. The sauce is made up of some herbs, garlic, lemon zest, a few egg yolks, and - yes - some anchovies. But they dissolve! So you really can't even see them. And the best part was that it was done in under 30 minutes.
Try it - you'll like it! If you like caesar salad, you'll like this pasta. If you don't, you're free to leave me nasty comments.
Spaghetti with Anchovy Carbonara (from Food & Wine magazine, April 2011)
**I recommend doubling the ingredients for the sauce. There was just enough to coat the pasta, but I definitely could have used more.
12 oz spaghetti (I used whole wheat)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
One 2-oz can flat anchovies, drained and chopped
a pinch of crushed red pepper (I left this out because of the kiddies)
1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 tbsp chopped oregano
1/4 cup chopped flat leave parsley
2 large egg yolks
salt and freshly ground pepper
1. In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the spaghetti until al dente. Drain the pasta reserving 1/2 cup (I say 1 cup) of the cooking water.
2. In a large, deep skillet, heat the oil with the garlic and anchovies and cook over moderately high heat until the anchovies have dissolved, about 2 minutes. Add the red pepper, zest, oregano and parsley, then add the pasta and toss to coat. Remove from heat.
3. In a small bowl, whisk the yolks with the reserved cooking water and add to the pasta. Cook over low heat, tossing until the pasta is coated in a creamy sauce, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper and serve.