Friday, March 25, 2011

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Anchovies and Kale

There is a lot of disdain for the anchovy - a small salt water fish that is pretty prominent in Italian cooking (due to it's abudence in that area of the world). Most people don't realize that the anchovy is the base for many of our best loved dishes - including caesar salad dressing and Worcestershire sauce. It doesn't have a fishy taste; it simply adds a depth of flavor that can't be found in another ingredient. If you haven't cooked with it, you should!

This dish is from Rachael Ray Magazine and is a true 30 minute meal, which is her speciality. It's very easy and quick; great for a weeknight. And because it uses whole wheat spaghetti and greens, I've decided it has to be healthy.

Now, I have to offer some advice. I am the queen of multitasking (and fail often at it but never learn my lesson) and cooking is no exception. I get stuff going and then start chopping and prepping for the rest of the meal. I don't like to wait around on things to cook so this gives me something to do while another portion is cooking. Often, this works in my favor but every once in awhile a dish cooks faster than I expect and I'm not ready with the next ingredient. This was one of those dishes. Because garlic is so fragile and prone to burning, it's imperitive that you have the kale chopped and ready to go before you begin. Don't wait until you throw in the garlic before attempting the kale. You can't chop that fast. I tried. And I sliced the top of my finger open. Go ahead and prepare it all ahead of time and this recipe will move very quickly and before you know it, you're ready to eat.

I did make a few changes; I couldn't find the pepper she suggests but I knew I wanted a bit of heat in the background so I pulled out a bag of dried arbol peppers that I had on hand. Arbol peppers are very hot so I shook all the seeds out of them before chopping a couple of them into small pieces. It wasn't spicy enough to need a glass of tea nearby but it had enough heat to add interest. I think you could use any pepper you like in this dish. I also grabbed my wedge of Asiago cheese that was calling my name from the cheese drawer instead of buying Pecornio-Romano, and used basic kale that I had on hand.

There is no need to do anything to the anchovies - they literally do melt into the oil and create this delicious sauce in the pan that you add the garlic and peppers to. It's actually really cool but they do splatter so have a piece of foil ready to cover your pan!

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Anchovies and Kale
Salt and black pepper
1 pound whole wheat spaghetti
About 1/4 cup EVOO
6 to 8 flat anchovy fillets
1 fresh chile pepper, such as red cherry or fresno, seeded and sliced or finely chopped (see my note above about peppers)
5 to 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 bunch cavolo nero (a form of kale - I just used regular kale), stemmed and shredded
A few grates nutmeg (I used ground)
2 large egg yolks
Grated pecorino-romano cheese (I shredded Asiago instead)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving a cup of the pasta cooking water.

While the pasta is working, heat the EVOO, 4 turns of the pan, in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the anchovies, cover the pan with a splatter screen or loose foil and let the anchovies melt into the oil. Add the chile pepper and garlic and stir for 2 minutes. Add the kale and let it wilt; season with a little nutmeg.

In a measuring cup, beat the egg yolks with some of the reserved pasta cooking water. Toss the drained spaghetti with the kale, a  few handfuls of cheese, lots of black pepper and the tempered egg yolks. Add more pasta cooking water as necessary to evenly coat.

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