This week, I’m kicking off a new feature on the blog – an A-Z of my favourite ingredients and how to use them. Today I’m going to focus on anchovies and broccoli – two fantastic ingredients which make remarkably good bedfellows! If you’ve never tried these beauts together, you’re going to want to make the super-simple pasta recipe below asap!
Anchovies are divisive – there’s no two ways about it – but if you’re on the right side of the debate, you know that they are one of the most versatile and delicious pantry staples anyone could wish for! If you’re on the wrong side of the debate, you may particularly like the following joke which I found online, and thoroughly enjoyed (because I’m a dad now):
Q: What smells worse than anchovies?
A: Anchovies’ bums.
It’s an instant classic.
Anchovies are the perfect addition to so many dishes – bringing an umami richness which doesn’t necessarily have to be fishy. A few anchovies give a complex base note to a simple beef stew or lasagne, blitzed into butter they liven up a steak, they give salsa verde a mouth-puckering salty bite, and lamb loves a bit of anchovy when roasting (see this previous post). They last forever in the tin, too, so you can always have a few silvery slivers squirrelled away to brighten up a savoury dish! Anchovies are so much more than a maligned pizza topping, they are a super-ingredient – both star and supporting artist – and their versatility earns them a clear place in the pantheon of flavour.
Broccoli is my go-to veg. It’s easy, it’s healthy, and it laps up flavours. It also inspired this (very NSFW) tune from DRAM feat. Lil Yachty:
Steamed or boiled, broccoli retains that iron minerality, and happily vibes with sauces. However, fry or roast this green, and the complexity of the veg really shines through. Much like cabbage or brussels sprouts – from the same brassica family – if you char broccoli a little, a smokey depth of flavour emerges which is a far-cry from the overcooked broccoli you had at school dinners.
Top tip: Make sure you use the stalk. It’s so often thrown away, but once you’ve removed the florets, peel off the tough outer skin, chop the core into batons, and cook them along with the florets. These are so tender and sweet – they are an unexpected delight!
Recipe – Anchovy and broccoli pasta
This dish is so simple it can hardly even be called a recipe. We have this a lot through the week, because it is just about the quickest pasta you can make, and it is delicious and healthy! The two co-stars of the show here, are A and B – anchovy and broccoli (also G – garlic – but that’s for another post)!
This recipe comes from Niki Segnit’s Flavour Thesaurus (which is still one of my favourite ‘cookbooks’ of all time!).
In a frying pan, disolve six anchovy fillets in two tablespoons of warm olive oil (not hot – you don’t want to fry them). Add some chopped garlic, chilli flakes and a bridesmaid’s posey of cooked broccoli florets. Push the broccoli around the pan to coat it in the sauce and then serve tossed with pasta. If you top it all off with grated parmesan, you’ll have a dish fit for a peasant king.
**Let me know how you get on, and if there are any great recipes for either ingredient that I HAVE to try!**