Anchovy Beet-Green Pesto Pasta & Arneis
TuLangheRoero is currently hosting a food blogging/photography contest. The challenge runs a little like the “Chopped” cooking show in slow motion. Each Monday, they announce the secret ingredient, always a favorite in the Langhe and Roero districts of the Piedmont region in Italy. The contest is to create and photograph a dish using the secret ingredient, and to post the recipe. This week’s challenge? Anchovy
The contest appeals to me in the same way our CSA box appeals; a chance to incorporate something new and unexpected in our meals. We had anchovies in some dishes we ate in the Langhe last fall; I have to confess their strong flavor can be overwhelming to me. Would I be up to the challenge? Will you?
For the contest, the meals aren’t required to be traditional Italian dishes, although they certainly can be. Anchovies in Italy traditionally come packed in salt, but they are very difficult to find in this form in Minnesota. We have easy access to oil-packed anchovies, so that’s what we used.
OK, so we start with some oil-packed anchovies. Pesto is a natural companion to anchovies. I had some beet-green pesto in the freezer I made last September; not traditional pesto ingredients, but true to the spirit. We’ve been roasting a lot of veggies lately, and I decided to bring all these elements into my dish. For wine, I chose a Rivetti Massimo Langhe Arneis, a bottle we had brought back from Italy.
Rivetti Massimo Langhe Arneis 2012 (purchased from Massimo at the winery!)
Eye: barest hint of lemon yellow, clear
Nose: lemons and steel
Mouth: minerals and stones, good acidity. The steely nature was perfect with the fish and pesto. We also tried a Langhe Nebbiolo we had open. The red wine was just too much red fruit, the Arneis was perfect.
If you’ve not included anchovies in your cooking, you should give them a try. The best advice I can offer is to start small and ease your way into them. They add a nice punch of flavor!
Anchovy Beet-Green Pesto Pasta
a.k.a. aka Pasta con pesto di barbabietole verde Acciuga
- 4 oz. beet-green pesto, (recipe below).
- 4-10 anchovy filets, either salt packed or packed in oil. Note: adjust number of anchovies to your desired intensity
- 4 cauliflower florets, cut into bite size pieces
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 4 oz. dry pasta, or 8 oz. fresh (we use homemade egg pasta)
- Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
- extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper
- preheat oven to 425°F
- put a pot of well salted water on medium-high
- toss the cauliflower and onions with 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil, pour into a small roasting pan
- roast cauliflower/onion mixture in the oven for 25 minutes
- mix chopped anchovies into pesto, reserving some for garnish
- Cook the pasta, about 1 minute for fresh, 6 minutes for dry. Reserve some of the pasta water
- Place pasta in individual bowls, layer the cauliflower/onion mix on top. Spoon the anchovy beet-green pesto on top. Garnish with additional anchovies and fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano.
If you think of pesto as a technique and not a specific recipe involving basil and pine nuts, you can create great sauces using a wide variety of greens and nuts. At the end of the summer, I prepare a variety of pesto’s and freeze them in small “pucks” so I can add them to dishes all winter long. You can also get the fresh ingredients as you like from the market. Here are the proportions I use:
- 4 cups fresh leaves of your choice
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup nuts of your choice
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt
Combine all ingredients in a food processor, process until you achieve the desired consistency. I like to freeze “pucks” in muffin tins or mini-muffin tins, then wrap in plastic and save in the freezer for the winter!