Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Spaghetti with onion and anchovy sauce

Here's another one of my what-I-had-for-lunch posts. Don't be put off if you don't like anchovies; the finished dish does not necessarily taste that fishy.

The original name of this recipe is called bigoli (or bigoi) in salsa. Bigoli are like chubby fresh spaghetti. This dish is from the Jewish Venetian tradition. Originally made with buckwheat, they are now usually made with whole wheat. However, I don't care for whole wheat pasta, so I used my regular De Cecco spaghetti, which is good because the rough surface allows the sauce to cling to it.

OK. I put plenty of water on to boil for the pasta. I did not salt the water because of the saltiness of the anchovies. For one person (actually, one eggplant), I minced a medium-sized yellow onion with my mezzaluna. I put four-five tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil in a frying pan and added the onion, frying over a medium-high heat. Onions should not brown at any time, so add water or turn down heat to avoid this. After a few minutes I added the anchovies (2 ounces), which I had rinsed. I continued to cook the onion-anchovy mixture for about ten more minutes, making sure the anchovies were completely blended and the onions were soft. Toward the end, I mashed the onions with the back of my wooden spoon to make the sauce more paste-like.

I drained the cooked spaghetti and turned them out into the pan with the sauce. I quickly and thoroughly stirred, then added about three tablespoons of fresh minced flat-leaf parsley. I also added some freshly-ground black pepper, but that's optional. It was good, and I'll probably make it again, but it wasn't exceptional. For less of an anchovy taste, I would soak the anchovies for ten minutes. I would also remove the anchovy bones beforehand if you don't like them, because they don't disappear into the sauce as I expected. Don't add cheese.

The dish is inexpensive and convenient, because you can always have onions and canned anchovies on hand. I'm not sure I'd make it for company, because it turns out to have a homely grayish-light brown color.

By the way, if you like anchovies you're sure to like pane cunzato, an excellent summertime pizza alternative. See my recipe here.