Anchovies aren’t just some random topping choice at your favorite Italian pizzeria. Love them or hate them, they are a huge Italian staple. And if you really give them a chance, you might not ever want a pizza without them on top.
If you love Caesar salad, you might be surprised to know that to make an authentic Caesar dressing, you need real anchovies. And for all those Italian dishes you crave, you’ll be equally as astonished to learn that anchovies, or anchovy paste, is one of the ingredients in a variety of sauces you can’t get enough of.
Italians have been using anchovies from the Mediterranean waters for centuries. Near Monterosso, the salinity of the sea along with the temperature and humidity give these Italian anchovies a firm texture and impart a special sweetness. They feed off plankton, tiny crustaceans and the larvae of mollusks. Small fishing crews head out at night with lights known as lampara; this light causes the plankton to become phosphorescent. Unable to resist the allure of the plankton, the anchovies find themselves caught in the nets.
In accordance with ancient traditions, anchovies are often preserved with salt. The men would fish for the anchovies and upon their return, the women would preserve these fish. June and July are the peak times for harvesting anchovies from the sea. To preserve them properly, one must act fast within the first 3 days of catching them.
Anchovies preserved in salt must be eaten within one year. The best way to enjoy Italian anchovies that are salt cured are to rinse them with water. Then, you should flatten them and remove the bones. You may also find varieties of them soaked in olive oil and other flavors. Some will already have the bones removed, making them even easier to enjoy.
You can add them to pizza, or chop them up for sauces and salads. However, if you truly want to eat them like an authentic Italian, you’ll spread out quality anchovies on a plate and drizzle them with extra virgin olive oil. Then sprinkle them with oregano and a little bit of fresh minced garlic.
Another easy way to allow the taste of Italian anchovies to speak for themselves is to grab a few hunks of warm bread and put them on it along with some fresh butter. While it sounds simple, the flavors are remarkably complex together, resulting in a divine meal that pairs outstandingly with fine Italian white wine.
For an authentic Italian meal with anchovies, give this Puttanesca recipe a try!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
3T extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 premium anchovy filets
1, 28 oz. can San Marzano tomatoes, drained
1/2C Mixed pitted olives
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes (more if you like it hot!)
1 lb Durum Wheat Fusilli Pasta
Chopped fresh parsley to garnish (optional)
Step One: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. In a large sauté pan, warm 2T of the olive oil with the garlic and anchovies for 2-3 minutes until fragrant.
Step Two: Add the tomatoes to the sauté pan and cook on medium-high for 10 minutes until the tomatoes start to break down. Add the olives, red pepper flakes and capers. Continue to simmer on low while the pasta cooks.
Step Three: Cook the fusilli pasta for 10 minutes and drain. Toss with the sauce and drizzle in the remaining oil. Garnish with fresh parsley.
*Running low on time? We got you covered! Enjoy these Puttanesca options!