PASTA NIRVANA

SUNDAY, APRIL 20, 2008

One of my least favorite things to do is wait on the checkout line at the supermarket. I especially hate it when I pop into the express lane with my basket containing three items and the person in front of me has just loaded a cart full of groceries onto the conveyor. What’s up with that? What is it about ten items or less that’s so hard to understand? Can’t these people read, or are they just unbelievably arrogant, because I’m telling you, it happens a lot!

I found myself in just that situation several weeks ago. Not only did the woman in front of me have a ton of items in her cart, she also had the nerve to pull out a stash of coupons! As I stood there, silently fuming, there was little else I could do but bide my time and wait. I flipped through the TV Guide and caught up on Bo and Hope’s latest escapades in Soap Opera Digest. Just as I was about to make a snarky comment to the rube in front of me, something caught my eye. The April issue of Gourmet Magazine had come out.
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Ooooooh!
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My mood immediately began to improve as I plucked a copy off of the stand. It was an issue devoted to Italian cooking. Right up my alley! The cover had a pristine white background with a picture of a really lovely-looking pasta dish. The pasta wasn’t fussy or fancy, but beautiful in its simplicity. That sold me. I had to make it.
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The dish was called Pasta with Spicy Anchovy Sauce and Dill Bread Crumbs. The foundation of the dish is a bevy of red onions caramelized in extra virgin olive oil. To that, anchovies are added and sauteed until they dissolve and meld with the onions into a deliciously sweet and salty sauce. The sauce is tossed with pasta, toasted bread crumbs, and herbs. Pasta nirvana!


While I was devouring my pasta, I also devoured the rest of the magazine. With every turned page, there was yet another tantalizing photo with another great recipe to try. I usually tear out the recipes I like and store them in a big loose-leaf binder to cut down on the dreaded “magazine clutter.” This time, however, there were just too many “keepers” for that.
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Since then, I have made a few of the other mouthwatering offerings from this issue. All of them were divine! But that’s a topic for another post.


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Pasta with Spicy Anchovy Sauce and Dill Bread Crumbs
from Gourmet magazine, April 2008

Makes 6 servings


3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 cups fresh bread crumbs (preferably from a baguette)
1/4 cup chopped dill
1 pound red onions, thinly sliced (3 cups)
1 (2-ounce) can flat anchovy fillets, drained and chopped
1 pound bucatini or perciatelli pasta (long tubular strands)
1/2 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes

Heat 1/4 cup oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until it shimmers, then cook bread crumbs, stirring constantly, until deep golden and crisp, 6 to 8 minutes.

Transfer bread crumbs to a bowl and toss with dill and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and black pepper.Wipe out skillet, then cook onions with 1/4 teaspoon salt in remaining 1/2 cup oil over medium heat, stirring frequently, until very soft, 12 to 15 minutes. Add anchovies and cook, mashing anchovies into onions, until dissolved.

Meanwhile, cook bucatini in a pasta pot of boiling salted water (2 tablespoons salt for 5 quarts water) until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain pasta.

Stir red-pepper flakes and reserved water into anchovy sauce, then add pasta and toss to combine. Add about half of bread crumbs and toss to coat.


Serve sprinkled with remaining bread crumbs.

Enjoy!
If you like this recipe, you might also enjoy:
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23 responses to Pasta Nirvana

  1. On April 20, 2008 at 10:43pm, Manggy said...

    Hahaha! Oh Susan, I hear you. I love it, though, when things go smoothly and quickly. It’s like winning the lottery. The lottery of checkout lines.

    I’ve never made pangrattato before but it looks so crispily good I think I’ll give it a shot :) I also think this is one pasta dish that would unite my family (even if my mom doesn’t like anchovies, my brother doesn’t like fish)– hopefully we achieve Nirvana!

  2. On April 20, 2008 at 10:54pm, Mandy said...

    I love the april issue of Gourmet but unfortunately it was accidentally being threw away during my recent move. :( Thanks for the review on this recipe, I am going to make it soon.

  3. On April 21, 2008 at 3:05am, Mochachocolata Rita said...

    ohhhhhh…..if tat person’s queueing in hong kong supermarket’s express lane, good luck to her. There would be lots of swearing & curses going her way. Hong Kong is one of the most impatient countries in the world, where people throw themselves onto trains, where parents left their children on the train’s platform, despite the 1 minute waiting time! heheh send her over! let us kick her butt while u enjoy ur magazine hehe

  4. On April 21, 2008 at 3:16am, Peter M said...

    Yesterday, I actually had someone ask me if they could go in front me…in the express line-up!

    This dish came out great in the photo…reminds me of the Sicilian dishes with anchovy.

  5. On April 21, 2008 at 7:53am, RecipeGirl said...

    I love anything pasta but I tend to be afraid of ANCHOVIES! Is my fear unjustified? Does the pasta taste fishy, or do they just give it a salty flavour?

  6. On April 21, 2008 at 7:56am, Bellini Valli said...

    I have this copy of Bon Appetit on the top of my magazine pile. Thanks for bringing it back to my attention:D

  7. On April 21, 2008 at 8:13am, Life in Recipes said...

    Gosh this looks amazing – I am a huge anchovy fan. I’ll even eat ‘em right out of the can when no one is watching.

  8. On April 21, 2008 at 9:36am, StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

    Manggy- Hahahaha! :D I read your story. I see that you know exactly how I feel! I don’t understand why the market doesn’t enforce this rule. Why have an express line if they don’t?

    This pasta dish was so incredibly easy to make. You really should try it. You’ll never know the anchovies are in there.

    Mandy- Don’t let that stop you. You can find the recipe for this dish on Gourmet’s web site.

    Rita- You go, girl! (Do they really leave their kids on the train platform?) :O

    Peter- Unbelievable! Sometimes, I will offer to let someone go ahead of me if they only have a few items, but that is MY choice. Fortunately, I am so well known at my local market, that the manager will usually open up a new line if he sees me waiting long.

    RecipeGirl- Do not be afraid! The anchovies completely dissolve and impart a rich saltiness to the dish. There is no fishiness. I use this technique in other kinds of dishes too.

    Val- You’re welcome! I hope you give it a try.

    Life in Recipes- Glad you like it! Lol, I do the same thing!

  9. On April 21, 2008 at 10:54am, Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm) said...

    The sight of the onions and anchovies frying, send my taste buds into orbit. Lovely meal, and the dill breadcrumbs a unique twist.

  10. On April 21, 2008 at 11:10am, Grace said...

    it’s too bad that so many people associate anchovies with nastiness. those cowards really should just give them a chance. and by “those cowards,” i mean me. :)

    also, bevy is a fantastic word. nice usage. :)

  11. On April 21, 2008 at 12:11pm, CookiePie said...

    Three of the magic words for me: 1) pasta; 2) anchovies; 3) breadcrumbs = YUM! This looks divine! I have to go back to that issue of Gourmet and clip this one, can’t believe I missed it. Thanks for the heads up!!

  12. On April 21, 2008 at 2:17pm, We Are Never Full said...

    Made something similar last summer based on a meal I ate in Italy. Added blitzed pistachios to the anchovy. Then, instead of regular breadcrumbs, I used grated biscotti. It went SO well w/ the pistachios and anchovy! Great job… I still appreciate food blogs that tout the ‘awesomeness’ of anchovy. I started loving them only in the last 3 years now I can’t live without them!

    amy @ we are never full

  13. On April 21, 2008 at 3:02pm, Patsyk said...

    I have a thing of anchovies in my pantry, so this may be making the menu line-up sooner rather than later. I haven’t cooked with them, but bought them… just in case since I keep reading recipes that need them.

    this looks wonderful!

  14. On April 21, 2008 at 4:08pm, Susan from Food Blogga said...

    I make a pasta with anchovies, bread crumbs, and lemon which Jeff loves, and I have a huge bunch of fresh dill just waiting to be used. So guess what I’ll be making? Thanks for the perfect timing!

  15. On April 21, 2008 at 7:29pm, White On Rice Couple said...

    I totally feel the same way about people who have cartloads full of stuff and they wait in the express lane. For the 15 items or less, I start to feel guilty if I have 14 items and everyone else in line has only 2 or 3 items. I feel like they’re all counting my items to see if i’m over the limit. But those who have the cart full just need to be told by the checker to “move to another lane!”.
    I really the anchovies in this pasta dish. Anchovies are finger licking good!

  16. On April 21, 2008 at 7:50pm, Kevin said...

    That pasta looks good and sounds great! I have been wanting to try anchovies for a while now.

  17. On April 21, 2008 at 11:44pm, Vicki said...

    Mmm, I have to try this. I love anchovies in sauces or in braised dishes (like lamb shanks), but I still refuse to have them on my pizza.

  18. On April 22, 2008 at 3:58am, Culinary Cowgirl said...

    Yep, that issue caught my eye too…yet I haven’t managed to make the recipe yet. Thanks for the rave review :)

  19. On April 22, 2008 at 5:58am, Ginny said...

    I always find myself succumbing to the food magazines when I’m stuck waiting esp. if there is something chocolate on the cover. Anchovies have been growing on me lately…I’ll have to give it a try! :)

  20. On April 22, 2008 at 11:28am, StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

    Nina- I’m pretty fond of that combination too. The dill breadcrumbs were nice, but I think I like parsley better.

    Grace- Lol! Anchovies get a bad rap! They are almost undetectable in most dishes. Go on, live dangerously! ;)

    CookiePie- I love the onion/anchovy combo. Definitely go back and dig this one out. It is so easy.

    Amy- Pistachios and biscotti? That sounds really interesting. What kind of biscotti did you use?

    Patsy- Try this. The anchovies completely disintegrate and you’re left with a subtle, salty undertone.

    Susan- You’re welcome! I’ll bet the lemon really punches it up. I’ll have to try that next time. :)

    WoR Couple- You know how it is. Some people think that the rules don’t apply to them. I can’t understand why the checkers don’t enforce it. I challenged one once and she just shrugged her shoulders. I guess they get paid antway, so they don’t care.

    I think anchovies are finger licking good too!

    Kevin- Thanks! What are you waiting for? Anchovies are great!

    Vicki- I’m not crazy about them on pizza either. I love them in lamb shanks! I don’t know why, but they really go together.

    Cowgirl- You’re welcome! If you make it, let me know what you think.

    Ginny- The magazines are the only thing that keep me sane! I love how they keep them right next to the candy bars. ;)

  21. On April 22, 2008 at 11:39am, Patricia Scarpin said...

    You should see some people here, that ask the clerk to divide the amount among 3 credit cards… :S

    That pasta dish is superb, Susan!

  22. On April 22, 2008 at 8:32pm, Proud Italian Cook said...

    I would slirp that bucatini up in a heartbeat!! :)

  23. On April 30, 2008 at 4:55pm, Kristen said...

    That looks amazing!

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Hello and welcome to SGCC! I’m Susan, a professional writer, food columnist, recipe developer, wife, mother, daughter and sister, who used to be a lawyer in a previous life. My love of food comes from a long line of wonderful and creative Italian home cooks who didn’t always have a lot, but knew how to make a lot out of what they had. I hope that you enjoy yourself while you’re here, and visit often! read more >>

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