Anchovies are sustainable, affordable, very versatile, and adapt to whatever role they are assigned. When eaten straight out of the jar/can, they can be briny and assertive, but when cooked and added to other ingredients, they fortify and enhance the other foods’ taste, leaving behind an elusive flavor. Many people who claim not to like anchovies are often surprised to discover how much better the recipe tastes when a few anchovies are added.
When cooking with anchovies, be careful not to expose them to too high a heat, as they can harden and become bitter and harsh. Allow them to cook slowly over low heat to dissolve gradually. Their flavor will better meld with the other ingredients. If the anchovy flavor becomes too strong for you, add a few drops of lemon juice to temper the flavor.
I hope that I can convert you to an anchovy lover with a few of these ideas.
- Add to a sauce for pasta: from Venetian Bigoli in salsa, when onions and anchovies are cooked down into a sauce that melts over whole wheat pasta (recipe here), to the simple Spaghettini alle alici, a typical Christmas eve dish (recipe here).
- Used in many stuffings for baked vegetables. Here’s my favorite recipe for stuffed peppers.
- Mash into oil-based sauces to accompany vegetables, fennel, and especially vegetables in the brassica group, such as broccoli, broccoli rabe, cooked greens, and cauliflower. They all share an affinity for the taste of anchovies.
- Use as a topping for many types of pizza, and they are especially delicious atop roasted red peppers (see photo below).
- Add to tomato sauces and salad dressings.
- Use anchovies to make a flavorful sauce for grilled or roasted vegetables. Check out my recipe for grilled eggplant with anchovy sauce here.
- When used to season a roast, anchovies dissolve, leaving a little hint of their own bold taste but contribute a considerable depth of flavor to the meat.
- Stir into a fish risotto.
- One of the best uses is to make bagna cauda, a delicious hot dip for a colorful platter of raw vegetables. Check out my friend John Carafoli’s great recipe here.
- Add anchovies to a cheese spread, such as Liptauer Condito recipe here.
- Check out more ideas on the Great Italian Chefs website – here.
- What could be more delicious than having a container of anchovy butter (recipe here) on hand to spread on bread, steak, fish, or whatever might need a boost of Mediterranean flavor!