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Pasta Nirvana

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 [1]and caught up on Bo and Hope’s latest escapades in Soap Opera Digest [2]. 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 [3]had come out.
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.
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.
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.


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

Makes 6 servings
(Printable Recipe) [4]

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.

If you like this recipe, you might also enjoy:
Pasta Pissaladiere [5]
Spaghetti alla Amatriciana Bianco at Two Yolks [6]
Pasta with Anchovy Crumbs and Gremolata at Gastronomy Domine [7]
Sicilian Style Spaghetti at Th Perfect Pantry [8]
Rice Fettuccine with Garlic, Green Onion, Chili and Anchovies at Kitchen Unplugged [9]