Thursday, April 1, 2010

Pasta so good you might choke!

Wednesday, otherwise referred to as Hump Day, can be a lot of things.  It can be slow and painful simply because it's right in the middle of a work week and you feel like you may never make it over the hump.  Or it can be the better side of the hump all day long; the weekend is in sight!  This week my hump day was purely fabulous.  Admittedly it may have had something to do with the fact that I'm on spring break, but that's only slightly relevant.
  • I woke up to sunshine and happily sipped my Starbucks Columbian blend on the porch next to my BFF yellow lab and smiled at everyone trudging on to work.  
  • I met my husband for lunch and we went to one of my favorite spots in Rosslyn: The Brown Bag.  I had the Parisian sandwich (I simply can't bring myself to get anything else).  This sandwich brings together brie, basil and tomato drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with pepper and grilled between two fresh slices of french bread.  Délicieux!
  • The cherry blossoms are finally in bloom.  It feels like a spring fantasy land.
  • I ended my evening by making the best pasta dish... and by best I mean the best.   
I have grown rather fond of anchovies.  I almost feel bad that they have such a stigma.  People eat all kinds of fish but these little miniature swimmers unfairly get a bad rap.  In my opinion, everyone should give them a try, especially in a pasta dish.  They have a fantastic and deep salty flavor that no kind of salt shaker will give you. Add some other great ingredients to the mix and this recipe will be your next favorite pasta dish. 

Start to finish, this dish should take about an hour.  If you're anything like me and get sidetracked by vino, phone calls to your sister, Bon Appetit magazine and other distractions, it could take all night.  I actually started making this meal at 6 and didn't end up eating until 9:30.  What can I say?  Imagine what a failure I am at Rachel Ray's 30 minute meals. 

Before I share the recipe, it's worth veering off for a side story.  I was so excited about how this dish came out that I was rattling on and on to my husband, in between mouthfuls of pasta, about how fantastic I am at creating impromptu recipes.  Truly my hubris was shameful, but it seriously is that good.  But culinary karma decided to put me in my place.  I choked.  When I say choked, I mean I could no longer breathe as a result of something lodging itself in my throat.  All of a sudden my bubbly little chatter was replaced with my husbands, "Are you choking?  Are you really choking?"  Thankfully he had recently completed First Aid and was behind me doing the Heimlich Maneuver.  All is well that ends well and we both learned something in the process.  Ladd knows he can truly do the Heimlich and I learned it's better not to talk with my mouth full.  Ok... maybe I also learned not to excessively tout my culinary achievements. Fair enough.

Pasta So Good You Might Choke:
serves two with leftovers

  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste.
  • 1 can organic diced tomatoes, drained but reserve the juice
  • 1 small can kalamata olives (or your favorite kind)
  • 1 onion cut in half then sliced thinly
  • 5-6 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed (no need to chop)
  • 8-10 small rounds of salami, sliced into thin strips
  • 1/2 box whole wheat spaghetti
  • fresh parsley
  • olive oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  On a sheet pan spread out your drained tomatoes, onions and garlic cloves.  Drizzle a little olive oil on top and sprinkle some pepper (no salt).  Bake for about 45 minutes, stirring half way through.  This will dry out your tomatoes a little and make the garlic cloves so sweet and soft. 

In a wide sauce pan over medium heat, drizzle about 1 tablespoon of olive oil and add the anchovy paste.  Give it a good stir then scrape in your tomato mixture.  Add the olives, salami and a little bit of that reserved tomato juice to give it some moisture.  Reduce the heat to medium low and let everything dance together for about 10 minutes.  Add the pasta once it has finished cooking and get all the good stuff mixed in nicely with those spaghetti strands.  I added a little more tomato juice as well.  That's it! Serve and enjoy.

Side note: the dish is a little on the salty side so taste it before adding any more salt.  I was out of parmesan cheese, but I think it would top this dish nicely.  I served it with some red wine and cheesy garlic toast to make this an ultimate comfort dish.

Anchovy Paste on FoodistaAnchovy Paste