Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Carnival of Meatless meals

I've been meaning to post my delicious broccoli ancovy pasta recipe for a while now, but when Milehimama announced that she was hosting this years meatless meals carnival for lent I decided I could delay sharing it with you no longer!
Having the word "delicious" and "anchovy" in the same sentence would ordinarily be oxymoronic, because I hate anchovies, both the look of them and the taste of them . Or at least I thought I did. I hate whitebait too. I think its the wholeness of the fish that gets me. The idea of eating the little fishy head complete with the little fishy eyeballs makes me beg for a cheese sandwich. I'm a little sensitive like that. If my food was once a living, breathing, reproducing creature, then I'm happier if it comes to me in completely unrecognisable form. This is why, back in the day when I didn't know about the mercury contaminant issues, I preferred tinned tuna to tinned salmon. Why does the former come in nice clean lumps of tuna flesh and the latter always come complete with bones and black scaly skin?

However, when I was introduced to the dish I share with you now, the taste was so, um, indefinably "something", not especially fishy, but richly er "yum".  Sorry, that's the best I can do with culinary adjectives. But trust me. This is one of the simplest, most delicious dishes you can prepare, . And it's frugal too. And there's not an eyeball in sight.
Oh, and if that's not enough to persuade you to give them a try, did you know that anchovies are really very good for you? Rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins and omegas. Also they are ( because of their short life span apparently)  low in mercury, PCBs and other contaminants.
A Jolly good all round little fish.

Alrighty. Here's what you need:

A head of broccoli
A jar of anchovies in oil
A packet of spaghetti
Olive oil.

Optional extras:
Dried chili flakes.

Here's what you do:

Dump the jar of anchovies in their oil into a fairly capacious cooking receptacle. I use a large flat bottomed wok type pan that has sufficient room for me to add the pasta later. I like to be able to serve straight from the pan and I detest using more dishes than is strictly necessary.

Heat the anchovies, giving them an occasional stir. At this point  you may want to add some garlic and chili. When I  watched my Italian cheffy friend cooking this she just had the simple anchovies on their own, but I quite like the addition of garlic and chili and it's hardly any more effort.

While this is on the heat, prep the broccoli. I use the whole broccoli, stem and all and just cut the whole lot fairly small ( it all breaks down and becomes a bit 'saucy' with the addition of extra oil ) so although broccoli florets might work well too if you want them like that, that's not the way I've cooked them for this dish.

Give the anchovies the odd stir while you're chopping the broccoli. Add some olive oil if you need it. By the time the broccoli is all chopped, the anchovies will have been broken down in the hot oil and rendered reassuringly unrecognisable as having been anything that was once a living thing happily besporting itself in it's briny home.
It's now just a lumpy oily sauce.

Throw in the bits of broccoli and stir. Add oil if it looks like it needs it.

Cook the pack of spaghetti.

When the spaghetti is cooked, dump the whole lot into the sizzly broccoli/anchovy sauce . Mix it all up well.

Bon appetit!

On the basis of the following very rough pricing:
Anchovies £2.00
Spaghetti £1.00
Broccoli £2.00
I estimate that this recipe feeds my entire family for a fiver, although we'd usually have a salad of some sort on the side too, but it's still a pretty frugal meatless meal.

Check out other meatless meals over at Milehimamas.


  1. My kids LOVE tinned and jarred fish, we'll have to try this!

    And oh, you cook just like me! I love the recipe!

  2. Right, I'll definitely have to cook this. Sounds great.

    But drat, you've reminded me of that tuna/mercury link which I'd conveniently forgotten. Back to the tin cupboard...