People are afraid of anchovies. They remember super-fishy bites from Caesar salads or bad chain pizza. But eating a good anchovy is a different experience than you imagine. Anchovies are distinctively fishy, but the texture is more like a meat than a fish. They are as salty as the sea, but more like the ocean water around ports. This is the food of a working man in a cloth cap taking a lunch break.
Anchovies are perfect for making a pasta dish, because the oil they are packed in helps to flavor the sauce. You won’t be eating chunks of fish, because the anchovies will melt away in the hot pasta. You’ll just have that indelible taste of the Mediterranean, indolent summer warmed by the sun.
1 pound uncooked fresh gluten-free fettuccine, or 1 pound dried gluten-free fettucine
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup pitted mixed Greek olives, roughly chopped
2 ounces anchovies, chopped, oil reserved
1/4 cup capers
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 lemons, zest grated and juiced
2 tablespoons butter*
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 tablespoon chiffonade fresh sorrel or basil
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Toss in the pasta. Cook until the pasta is slightly al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain the pasta well, then toss with 2 tablespoons of the oil. Set aside.
Set a large sauté pan over medium heat. Pour in the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until the shallots are softened and translucent, 2–3 minutes.
Toss in the olives, anchovies, and reserved anchovy oil and stir. After a moment, add the capers and pepper to the pan and cook, stirring, until everything releases its smells, 1–2 minutes.
Pour in the wine to deglaze the pan, scraping the goodness from the bottom. Squeeze in the lemon juice and simmer until the liquid is reduced by about a third of its volume, about 1 minute. Swirl in the butter, which will emulsify the sauce.
Add the pasta to the sauce. Toss with tongs until the pasta is hot and coated with the sauce. Remove from the heat. Add the pine nuts, lemon zest, and sorrel and stir just a bit before serving.
Serve this sauce with grilled or roasted chicken, smoked salmon, or seared prawns.
Note: If you cannot eat dairy, you can substitute a nondairy spread for the butter. Any combination of olives will do well also.