Some people are frightened by anchovies. Although I confess I am not a fan of a bunch of whole ones perched about my Caesar salad due to their hairy appearance, I do love them mixed into sauces and things where their flavor adds a unique richness. If you are not a fan, just open the can or jar, tip them into the pan without looking and whisk them quickly so they break down and you don't have to spend time looking at them. I promise you won't notice they are in the dish. If you like them but your family or dinner guests don't--shhhh!!! Don't tell them, hide the tin and no one will be the wiser. What they do is round out this creamy sauce which is a pleasing mix of lightly sweet and salty and pretty darn addicting, so I highly recommend you use them.
Red Bell Pepper & Anchovy Sauce (Salsa Piccante di Peperone e Acciughe)
From Venezia by Tessa Kiros
(Makes 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup olive oil (I used 1/3 cup)
4 very large anchovy fillets in oil, drained
1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 garlic clove, peeled and halved
2 small red bell peppers, seeded and cut into pieces
1 Tbsp capers in vinegar, brined
3/4 cup vegetable broth, not too salty
2 tsp white wine vinegar
Heat the olive oil and anchovies in a small saucepan, whisking so the anchovies dissolve. Add the flour, whisking until smooth.
Add the garlic, pepper, and the capers. Bring to a slow boil, then add the vegetable broth. Lower the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, whisking now and then so that nothing sticks. Allow to cool a little, then puree thoroughly using a handheld blender. When completely cool, stir in the vinegar.
Notes/Results: Creamy and really delicious. The sauce has a nice complexity and is a change from your standard tomato sauce. I loved the flavor and the way it was heightened and made brighter from the touch of vinegar. This dish is simple to make and can pretty much be done in the time it takes to get the water boiling and pasta cooked. I cut down the oil from 1/2 cup to 1/3 cup (just because I am always looking for easy, painless to reduce a little fat and calories) but it wasn't missed. I served this on Barilla Plus Rotini--a personal favorite because who doesn't need a little extra fiber (4 grams versus 1 gram in regular pasta) and nutrients in a pasta that has the same taste and texture as white pasta? You can of course use the pasta of your choice. I garnished the dish with some fresh basil from my herb garden and a whisper of finely grated Parmesan cheese. Totally satisfied the current craving and I will make this tasty sauce again--as a pasta sauce or a condiment.
It's Potluck week at I Heart Cooking Clubs, our chance to make any recipe we want. You can check out what dishes everyone made by going to the post and checking out the links.
In addition to IHCC, I am sending this easy pasta dish to Ruth's Presto Pasta Nights, hosted this week by my friend and Cook the Books co-host Rachel, The Crispy Cook. PPN takes a break for the holidays so stop by Rachel's blog on Friday for the last PPN roundup of this year.
Are you an anchovy fan or foe?