Everyone knows that Valentine’s Day is synonymous with chocolate. It’s the food of love. Who doesn’t melt a little when presented with one of those precious little heart-shaped boxes on this day when we celebrate love and romance? But, chocolate isn’t only for the sentimental. It’s big business too. In fact, in these days leading up to V-Day, American consumers are expected to buy more than 58 million pounds of chocolate, and shell out around $345 million dollars to do it. That’s a lot of chocolate!
But what about those of us, myself included, whose sweethearts don’t have a sweet tooth? (Yes, Mr. SGCC, I’m talking about you!) Don’t they deserve a rich, delicious, velvety chocolate token of your affection too? I think so, and that is why I’m excited to share this pasta dish with you.
I saw TV chef, David Rocco, prepare this Penne al Cioccolato con Acciughe, or Chocolate Penne with Anchovies, on his show a few days ago, and it intrigued me. I wasn’t surprised that he was using chocolate in a savory dish. People have been doing that for ages. What really drew me in was that instead of as an add-in, he was using chocolate as the main ingredient in his dish – and a lot of it. I was also fascinated by the fact that he paired the chocolate with anchovies. When I saw that, I had quite a WTF moment! It must have worked though, because when David fed a taste of the concoction to his wife, she kind of swooned a little. That was when I knew I had to recreate this dish at home.
Penne al Cioccolato con Acciughe requires only a few ingredients and is very quick and easy to prepare. You put your pasta on to boil and make the sauce while it cooks. By the time the pasta is ready, the sauce is too. It’s also all tossed together in one pan so cleanup is minimal, leaving more time for…well…other things.
But, how did it taste? Pretty darn good, actually! It was definitely chocolatey, but not really sweet. And, it was rich! The anchovies were very subtle, adding just a hint of smoky saltiness to the dish – not “fishy” at all. While Penne al Cioccolato con Acciughe will probably never replace truffles as my chocolate indulgence of choice, it is definitely an interesting dish that is well worth trying – especially for Valentine’s Day. And, while it didn’t instantly convert Mr. SGCC into a chocolate lover, I think it got him one step closer.
Penne al Cioccolato con Acciughe (Chocolate Penne with Anchovies)
adapted from David Rocco
1 pound (450g) penne rigate pasta
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
8 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
2 cups (457g) finest quality bittersweet chocolate containing at least 70% cocoa, chopped
1/2 cup (14g) plain breadcrumbs
Handful fresh parsley, chopped
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the penne until just barely al dente. While pasta is cooking, make the sauce.
In a large sauté pan or saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic, chili flakes and anchovies and sauté, being careful not to scorch the garlic. Cook until the garlic is lightly golden and the anchovies have somewhat dissolved.
Add the chopped chocolate and stir until melted. When the chocolate has melted, mix in the breadcrumbs.
Drain the pasta and add to the chocolate sauce and toss. Add parsley and mix together well for a few seconds so that the pasta and the sauce are well amalgamated. Serve immediately.