If you’ve never used anchovies as a storecupboard ingredient before the concept may take a little bit of getting used to; they are, after all, tiny little fishes. It took a while for me to come round to the idea too and I only started using them in recent years, but they won me over and have now earned a permanent place in my cupboard.
Anchovies are really more of a seasoning and flavouring to add to food and their distinct taste isn’t fishy, just nice and salty. They completely dissolve into food and if you’d never had them before and you tried a dish containing them you really wouldn’t know you were eating fish. Teaming them with lamb is an Italian classic, as is using them in pasta dishes such as this one.
This recipe is very quick and easy and really a suggestion for you to use as a base and play around with. Try adding black olives, garlic or chilli to the sauce, sprinkle over some chopped flat leafed parsley at the end or top it with Parmesan cheese. I sometimes like to add toasted breadcrumbs; you can simply toast the breadcrumbs in a dry pan as they are or toss them with Parmesan cheese, or sauté them with olive oil and a touch of crushed garlic, and perhaps more anchovies. Over to you!
200g dried spaghetti
2 garlic cloves, crushed
4 anchovy fillets
4 large, ripe tomatoes, diced
freshly ground black pepper
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil then add the spaghetti and cook it until al dente.
While the spaghetti is cooking prepare the sauce. Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan over a medium heat and then add the garlic and anchovy filets. Stir them with a wooden spoon for about a minute or so, breaking them up so that they start to melt into the oil. At this point add the tomatoes to the pan and simmer the mixture for the time the pasta takes to cook. Season with black pepper according to taste. You won’t need any salt as the anchovies are salty.
Drain the spaghetti and then toss it with the sauce before serving.