Thursday, July 12, 2007

Ew, anchovies!

I think I may agree with that sentiment. I figured, I'll give you a try. Hello little anchovies in the see through glass jar. You don't look too bad. Boy was I wrong. As soon as I twisted off the cap I started wishing we hadn't used the end of the jar of capers Saturday morning and I'd have some salty element to replace the anchovies. I'm not sure if capers would have done the trick, but they sure do smell a lot better.

I suppose not that many people actually like anchovies, but I'm not sure if I've ever had anchovies that weren't disguised or hidden (such as in Caesar dressing) so the word anchovies did not scare me away from trying out the recipe. Which, other than the whole nasty smell while making it and only using half as many anchovies as called for because I couldn't bring myself to open the other jar, was followed closely.

The most surprising (in a good way) part of the meal though was what happened to be the most expensive: the pasta. But I cooked it just right (I actually managed al dente for once!) and it helped to make the meal. Bionaturae was the only pappardelle pasta I found (and I did go to two grocery stores), and all it was was semolina and eggs. I was almost tempted to try to make pasta, given the simplicity of the dish, but figured without anything to flatten it for me, I might make something gross and full of elasticity.

But I digress. This simple dish is perfect for a summer night when you want something warm and light tasting. Following it with raspberry sorbet, well, that can only make it better.

Pappardelle with Zucchini, Mint, and Anchovies

adapted from a recipe by Melissa Clark in Fast, a special Food & Wine

2 ounces anchovies, drained and minced
1/4 cup finely chopped mint
2 tablespoons snipped chives or tareh
1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 lbs medium zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise*
coarse salt
2 (8.8 ounce) packages dried pappardelle
Freshly grated parmesan cheese and lemon wedges for serving

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

In a large bowl mix together the anchovies, mint, chives, and 2 Tablespoons of the oil.
In a large skillet heat the remaining 1/4 cup of oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic crushed red pepper and cook over moderate heat until the garlic is lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add the zucchini, season with salt, and cook over moderately-high heat, tossing occasionally until tender, but crisp, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, add the pappardelle to the boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta in a colander, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Return the pasta to the pot and stir in the zucchini and reserved cooking water. Stir together gently over moderate heat.
Transfer the pasta to the large bowl with the anchovy mixture, and toss until the pasta is coated. Serve with parmesan and lemon wedges.

*I have trouble thinly slicing things, so I attempted to use a mandoline. I'm not so great with mandolines either, so I cut my right thumb (I cut the left thumb last week with a serrated knife) and decided to just use a vegetable peeler to get strips of zucchini. The only problem with that method is that you end up with a chunk of zucchini. If anyone knows an effective way to thinly slice zucchini lengthwise, please do tell!

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