Hi friends. Sorry for the radio silence. It's been a bit of a week around here---my computer decided, with exactly two weeks until my due date and exactly three radio shows still to finish---that now would be a good time to quit. I'm still waiting to hear back from the very nice man at Cape Mac, but in the meantime, I thought I'd stop by from Alex's computer.
I have to admit, it hasn't been all bad here in the land of the computer-less. I've planted lettuce, staked the dahlias, been to the beach twice, finished a book (The Shipping News---an excellent read!) and started another (The Help, so far excellent).
I've also been cooking. I made a huge batch of oven-roasted tomatoes the other day, and a big bowl of homemade salsa, and even an anchovy-garlic tomato sauce that we poured over pasta and topped with torn basil and toasted bread crumbs. As you can see, we're still in a very serious tomato phase.
That last recipe in particular turned out very nicely. I wanted to tell you about it because it came from one of those confusion inspirations---the type where you read a recipe wrong and then it turns out you're glad you did in the end. I was looking through the new Bon Appetit and there was a whole page on anchovies. I saw what I thought was a recipe for an anchovy-tomato pasta sauce, but what turned out to really be a recipe for an anchovy-laced vinaigrette that you poured over sliced tomatoes. Anyway, by the time it got to dinner time and I'd gone to the market to get anchovies and hauled in another few pounds of tomatoes from the garden, I had the pasta dish very set in my head. I didn't let it deter me, when I looked for the recipe, that it didn't actually exist.
Instead, I browned some garlic in olive oil, added the anchovies, and stirred until they sort of dissolved into a paste in the pan. Then in a separate pot I cooked down the tomatoes with onions and red wine and basil into sauce, the way I do when I'm going to put it up to freeze it. I pureed it at the end, so that it was smooth, and then added a good glug to the anchovy-garlic mixture. While the two came together, I put on a pot of water to boil and threw the pasta in, and then tore the leaves from a few basil stems. Finally, I toasted some Panko crumbs in olive oil and grated some Parmesan. When the pasta was hot and drained, I lit the candles, cut some fresh dahlias for the table, and pulled out the china. I tossed the pasta in with the anchovy-tomato sauce, arranged a nice nest of it on each plate, and sprinkled torn basil and grated Parmesan and toasted Panko crumbs on top.
Then we ate. I cleaned my plate, and Alex cleaned his. The dog sat under the table, wishing he had a plate to clean, and finally, we blew out the candles, closed the screen door, and went to bed. It was, all in all, pretty terrific.
PASTA WITH TOMATO-ANCHOVY SAUCE
If you're looking for anchovies, Alex sells a very nice Spanish variety at his market in Truro, which is what I used. Wherever you find yours, just be sure to use the kind marinated in vinegar, not oil, as it will give the pasta sauce a very different texture and taste. This recipe serves 2-3.
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 package white anchovies marinated in vinegar (roughly 100 grams net weight)
1 and 1/2 cups thick, smooth tomato sauce (I used homemade tomato-basil)
1/3 pound spaghetti, cooked and drained
1/3 cup toasted Panko bread crumbs
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated
a handful of torn basil leaves
optional: several oven roasted tomatoes, to place on top
Heat up a glug of olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over low heat. Add the garlic and saute, stirring constantly, for about a minute, or until it starts to get fragrant. Pour in the anchovies, vinegar and all, and turn the heat up to medium. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, or until the anchovies dissolve into a sort of paste with the oil and the garlic. Add the tomato sauce and continue cooking until everything is well combined and comes to a simmer. Combine the pasta and sauce and toss well.
On each plate, arrange a nest of pasta and top with toasted Panko crumbs, grated Parmesan, torn basil leaves, and if you have some on hand, a few oven roasted tomatoes. Serve immediately.