CLASSIC pasta penne with anchovies, tomatoes and garlic








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Anchovies and sardines are either an acquired taste or the love for them is in the genes, as it probably is in Sicily especially. There are several classic pasta sauces with sardines, most using a combination of fennel and pine nuts and other ingredients.

In the interests of having at least one such recipe available, we give full credit to Mark Bittman, the extraordinary writer on all things cooking, writing in The New York Times, from which this much simpler recipe using anchovies is adapted.

Bittman, recognizing that anchovies are strong flavored and fishy, advises not to buy inferior anchovies that come in two-ounce cans, not packed in olive oil. The good ones are packed in jars, in olive oil, and imported from Italy.

Once the proper anchovies have been found, the sauce is a piece of cake, so to speak.

for the sauce:

  • one-quarter cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ten medium garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • good pinch of red pepper flakes
  • twenty anchovy filets, more or less
  • two cups of plum tomatoes, diced in small cubes, or cherry tomatoes, quartered.
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • two tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped

for the pasta:

  • one pound of penne is ideal, although bucatini is also good

Heat the oil over medium heat in a saute pan large enough to eventually hold the sauce and the pasta. Add the garlic and the red pepper flakes. When it first starts to sizzle, add the anchovies and a half teaspoon of salt. Cook for about a minute until the anchovies fall apart, making the sauce. Add several twists of the pepper mill.

Add the tomatoes and cook over a strong, bubbling simmer, for about eight minutes, stirring, until the tomatoes fall apart into the sauce. Add the chopped parsley. Taste for salt

Meanwhile bring 4-5 quarts of water to a raging boil. Add a tablespoon of salt. Drop in the pasta and stir. Continue cooking until al dente  Drain somewhat, although the pasta should carry a little moisture.

Bring the sauce to heat again. Add the pasta to the sauce.  Stir very well. Cover and steam-cook for a minute over medium heat. Stir again and serve.



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