Cooking Italy~Broccoli and Anchovy Sauce

30 01 2010

One of the things I love about Cooking Italy and the philosophy of our fearless leader, Angela aka Spinach Tiger, is that she’s out there hunting for HEALTHY, NATURAL, FAST FOODS!!  She’s a modern woman, who works like many of us.  Yet, she doesn’t want to sacrifice health and nutrition because of chaotic work schedules.  Here’s another example of being able to have a really quick dinner, without a lot of work, and still have healthy components.  I prepped, marinated and served dinner in an hour and 15 minutes, and spent a lot of that sitting down.  Gotta love that part!

Our sauce consists of anchovy fillets chopped fine, and smooshed into oblivion in olive oil.  I know it seems kind of gross if you aren’t on a nodding acquaintance with anchovies, but…try to give it a try.  If you use Worcestershire sauce, or fish sauce when cooking, this is pretty close to the same thing.  The anchovies are a substitute for salt, and they are a natural flavor enhancer.  Go figure.  If the quantity of anchovies really seems to much for you…use less and add salt to taste, but try to at least use some anchovy in the dish to get that “umami” factor going.  I swear we tasted NO fishiness.  Honest!  I can’t do fishiness.  *Ü*  I can’t even eat unagi on sushi dates.

I know my beloved, and my beloved needs protein at dinner time.  I decided that the best way to work this and keep my dish the way the recipe was written was to reach back to a starter we’d used earlier…shrimp marinated in olive oil and lemon.  That solved my problem.  If I served them at the same time, Bruce could eat shrimp with his pasta and feel complete.  I used broccolini rather than broccoli in my dish.  I chopped the stems into short lengths and cooked them in a small amount of salted water and saved the tops to cook only in the oil with the pasta.

In order to have everything ready at the same time, I put two pans on the stove…one for pasta, and one for shrimp.  They just needed a quick poach before they set for at least an hour in their bath of lemon and olive oil.  I’d have cheated and used the same water, except the shrimp needed some goodies in the poaching liquid, along with some vinegar.  While the shrimp was poaching, I did the rest of the prep work…got my veggies ready and chopped my anchovies, then measured my olive oil, and grated the cheeses.  That was it, besides scrubbing up.  I turned the pasta water to low to keep it ready for the Orecchiette.  Orecchiette are little ears of pasta.  For the next 45 minutes, it was all R & R time while the shrimp luxuriated in their bath.

When it was time to put dinner on the table, I kicked up the heat and set the pasta to boil, and started cooking the broccolini; set it aside; prepped the olive oil and anchovy sauce, and set it aside until the orecchiette were finished, then put it all together.  The whole process took maybe 15 minutes, start to table.

Tasting Notes~
The Broccoli and Anchovy Sauce wasn’t a dish I’d really think to use for broccoli, but it’s a dish I’d go to immediately for broccolini.  It was a little on the mild side for us…not quite enough flavor, even with the pepper flakes I haven’t mentioned anywhere yet.  The dish had a nice little bite, but not enough underlying flavor.  I wouldn’t want to add more anchovy…I don’t like fishiness, and more anchovy would lead to that.  Garlic…now that would be a thought, but then we’re changing the dish, and that’s never going to happen when I test a recipe for Cooking Italy…at least not the first time out!  It was good, but not fabulous, but it was fast!!   Actually, I’d like to try this again, only using the sauce from the shrimp with the broccolini and orecchiette.  With a little garlic…  I think that would go over a lot better.  Who knows?!