What’s In The Bag: Anchovy Paste-Off
EVENT: Cooking From Christina’s Bag MAIN INGREDIENTS: Chives, Eggplant, Anchovy Paste, Artichoke Hearts CARA’S ADDITIONS: Fettucine, Pine Nuts, Raisins, Saffron, Fennel PHOEBE’S ADDITIONS: Striped Bass, Parsley, Capers, Lemon, Red Onion (leftover) MENU: Sicilian Pasta (C); Eggplant Bruschetta (C); Striped Bass with Salsa Verde and Mediterranean Roasted Vegetables (P)
Cara and Phoebe, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOKS
This pasta may look unassuming, but its flavors—from earthy saffron to briny anchovies to fragrant pinenuts and sweet raisins—combine to make such a statement in every bite. Definitely one to try! Serve with a simple summer salad.
1 tablespoon chives
1 tablespoon anchovy paste, or 2 anchovies, finely minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts
1 tablespoon raisins, plumped for 20 minutes in hot water
1 bulb fennel, thinly sliced, with a bit of the green part chopped finely and thrown in pinch of saffron
3/4 pound pasta, preferably fresh and preferably fettucine Combine all ingredients. Let them marinate for four hours, or longer in the refrigerator. Cook the pasta according to directions. Drain and immediately toss with the marinade. Sprinkle with pine nuts and serve.
This might seem like a cop-out—simply mixing two of the ingredients and throwing them on a piece of toast—if it weren’t for my recorded new obsession with marinated grilled eggplant. You can either verify that for yourself by making this dish, or just believe that I put this together because it was delicious—not just easy.
1 large eggplant, sliced
1/2 jar marinated artichoke hearts
1/2 baguette, in thin slices
Bake lightly oiled slices of eggplant in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. Toast the baguette slices briefly. Chop the artichokes. Mix with eggplant strips. Let rest for an hour. Spoon mixture onto baguette pieces, and enjoy.
Makes 2 Servings
True, I have yet to try Cara’s marinated grilled eggplant. But until she makes me a portion, instead of just inundating my inbox with oh-so appetizing pictures, I will remain a believer that roasting is the best way to create the perfect mouthful of eggplant. More so, baking the vegetables at a very high heat in the oven can transform a soggy, dull piece of artichoke into a fresh, crispy marvel. I toss them piping hot with a simple salsa verde–chives, parsley, anchovy paste, lemon juice and capers–and pile them high over a simple filet of bass. You can use any leftover herbs for the salsa, and any sturdy fish as the center-piece. But what really makes these simple Mediterranean flavors come together is the anchovy paste which, without Christina’s inspiration, I would have not dared add to my shopping bag.
3-4 Japanese eggplant (1 small regular), cut into
½ inch rounds
½ red onion, quartered and sliced
1 6oz jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed
1 tbsp capers
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp chopped chives
1 tsp anchovy paste
2 tbsp lemon juice (about ½ lemon)
2 tbsp olive oil
¼ tsp salt
¾ lb striped bass filet, skin-on olive oil
Preheat the oven to 445°F. In a large rimmed baking dish, combine the eggplant, onion, and artichoke hearts with a glug of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Toss until fully coated, and then shake the pan to make sure the vegetables lie flat and have the maximum possible surface area exposed. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes. With a spatula, redistribute the vegetables so they brown on the opposite side, and return to the oven for another 10-20 minutes, until the vegetables are dark brown and caramelized. In the meantime, make the salsa verde: Combine the capers, herbs, anchovy paste, lemon juice, oil and salt in a small bowl and whisk until fully incorporated. Coat a large skillet with olive oil and set it over high heat. Pat the fish fillet dry and when the pan starts to smoke, set it flesh-side down in the hot oil. Cook until the fish flesh has turned opaque half way through, then flip the fish and cook skin-side down. Cook time depends on the thickness of the fish. If you have a very thick filet, finish in a 400 degree oven for a few minutes, or return the flame to low and cover the pan for a few minutes. Set fish fillet on a platter or between two plates. Drizzle the top with a spoonful of salsa verde. When the vegetables have finished roasting, toss them together with the remaining salsa. Top the fish with the vegetable mixture and garnish with some chopped chives.