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Anchovies: More Than Those Squiggly Fishy Pizza Bits

Updated on May 31, 2010

Let me guess - you love them, right? Either that, or you hate them. There seems to be no middle ground with anchovies, and for that I blame pizza. When you get anchovies on pizza, they completely overpower every other flavor - even the pepperoni, which can hold its own with any other topping. But anchovies as an ingredient are quite different from anchovies on pizza.

If you don't believe me, I want you to try a simple experiment. Next time you make a simple sauce - it can be one based on cream, tomato, or wine - add finely chopped anchovies during cooking (or use anchovy paste, a mixture of anchovies and olive oil that comes in a toothpaste-like tube). Whether you're using paste or pieces, there won't be any big chunks that betray the presence of anchovy; the only telltale clue will be the flavor, one your guests will notice, but won't be able to identify. "This sauce is delicious," they'll say. "What's in it?"

Don't tell them - let it be your very own little secret.

Anchovies in the can are ready to use, and the only prep required is draining them of their oil.

  • Anchovies are the key to Caesar salad dressing. Mix them with olive oil, vinegar, garlic, and Parmesan cheese. If you don't want to use raw egg, substitute a little mustard or buttermilk.
  • Anchovies and tomatoes are made for each other - add chopped anchovies (or anchovy paste) to any simple tomato sauce.
  • Anchovies and seafood are almost as good a combination as anchovies and tomatoes - put anchovies in your clam sauce or cioppino.
  • Combine white beans, chopped anchovies, olive oil, vinegar, and cilantro for a simple salad.
  • For a simple, flavorful pasta dish, toss spaghetti with garlic and anchovies cooked in olive oil, and add a little fresh chopped parsley.
  • Make a simple sauce for seafood with anchovies or anchovy paste, butter, white wine, and garlic.
  • Add anchovies and capers to potato salad.

The glory of anchovies is truly experienced to its highest degree in this delightful fiery garlic anchovy linguine:

1 pound of dry linguine pasta
4 ounces anchovy fillets, chopped
8 cloves garlic, chopped
8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup sliced cremini mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 cup diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes
4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste (watch out, you won't need much)

Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat, then stir in garlic and mushrooms and sauté until lightly browned. Add anchovies and about half a cup of water (or fish stock if you have any) and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, green onions, pepper flakes, and parsley, and simmer until veggies are soft for about 4 minutes. Toss linguine into boiling salty water and cook until "hard al dente", about 6 minutes then drain. Toss everything together in the pan, serve up in oversized pasta dishes, and prepare to absolutely love it!

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