October 06, 2009
A couple of months ago, AC and I became obsessed with those little canned smoked oysters that are usually served at dinner parties as appetizers or hor'devours. Slightly salty, briny, and incredibly smoky -- they pair perfectly with alcohol and rice, our two favorite foods ;). In our smoked oyster excitement, we enthusiastically thought that canned anchovies would be an equally tasty appetizer and decided to pick up a pack at Costco. Only, there were two problems. Canned anchovies were definitely NOT the same as smoked oysters when eaten plain! And we bought this stuff in bulk...
That left us with about oh, seven more cans of anchovies to eat through -- which actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise. We quickly learned that anchovies are great for making caesar salads and Italian pizzas. But more importantly, we discovered this incredibly flavorful pasta dish (which has now made several appearances into our weekly meal rotation).
Ok, the photo just doesn't do it justice...so I'll try to explain what your computer screen can't convey. What you can't see or taste is the anchovy, garlic and hot pepper-infused olive oil that transforms the warm pasta into an intensely flavorful and unique dish. Slightly spicy and salty from those 3 bold ingredients, this pasta also gets a wonderfully crunchy texture from the toasted panko and broccoli rabe mixed in. Yes, it's hard to believe from the picture -- but these flavors are actually waaaay more complex and hearty than what your standard ole' tomato sauce can offer. In fact, AC now prefers this over marinara whenever we have pasta. What, aren't looks always deceiving?
Gemelli with Broccoli Rabe and Anchovies
Recipe adapted from Gourmet, 2007
1 lb gemelli or other corkscrew pasta
1-2 bunches broccoli rabe, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
1 C panko (Japanese crisp bread crumbs)
1/2 C extra-virgin olive oil
8 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1.5 (3-ounces) cans flat anchovy fillets, drained and chopped
1/2 - 1 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes, or to taste
Cook pasta in a 7- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water 6 minutes, then stir in broccoli rabe and boil until pasta is al dente, about 5 minutes more.
While pasta is cooking, toss panko with 1 tablespoon oil in a shallow baking pan until coated and bake at 350 degrees, stirring once or twice, until golden, 8 to 10 minutes.
While broccoli rabe (with pasta) is cooking, cook garlic, anchovies, and red-pepper flakes in remaining 7 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring until garlic is golden, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
Drain pasta and broccoli rabe in a colander, then add to anchovy mixture in skillet, tossing to combine. Serve pasta sprinkled with some toasted panko and parmesan cheese.