I want to like anchovies. I really do. But when I see them: their little, hairy, smelly, brown bodies, I get the willies. I know, my reaction sounds pedestrian, but there's no other way to say it: anchovies freak me out. In the past, I've been ok with my unsophisticated fear of anchovies. But occasionally, I'll hear someone credible, someone I admire, talk about the advantages of cooking with anchovies, and I'll re-think my fear. Usually, my reconsideration of anchovies as something edible lasts about 30 seconds, but recently Jane Black of the Washington Post wrote this article. Ms. Black succeeded where many others have failed: she helped push me off the anchovy avoiding fence. As a first step, I made this simple dish.
Capellini with lemon and anchovies sounds harmless, and, indeed, it was. I found the anchovies mild tasting and since I diced them up to tiny pieces, I no longer had to worry about hairy fish getting stuck in my gullet. I'm not going to lie to you, the dish didn't knock my socks off, but I did think that the anchovies gave it a light seafood-y taste that wasn't fishy or omnipresent. Would I make it again? Sure. Especially on a weeknight when there is nothing in my cupboard.
I think I'll continue to try to cook with anchovies. Next up, my very own cesaer dressing. But before I get too far ahead of myself, here's a question for you anchovy lovers out there: Which brand of anchovies is best?
Capellini with Lemon Anchovy Sauce
Adapted from Lynn Rosetto Kasper
3/4 box capellini
2 (2-oz.) tins anchovies packed in olive oil
1/3 c. minced onion
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 minced garlic cloves
1/4 cup lemon juice, or more to taste
3 tbsp. minced thyme
1 tbsp. lemon zest
1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan
Rinse and drain anchovies. Mash them in a bowl with onion, olive oil and garlic. Stir in lemon juice, and let stand 20 minutes (this mutes the heat of the onion and garlic). Meanwhile, cook capellini per box instructions. When cappellini is just about done, add anchovy sauce to pan, add thyme, heat for one minute over medium heat and then drain and stir in capellini. Toss (and top) with parmesan and lemon zest.