Mariel here. This Puttanesca-style pasta sauce changed my mind about anchovies. Prior to making this recipe, I deigned anchovies inedible, too-fishy and hyper-salty for my persnickety palate. But I stumbled across a recipe for No-Cook Olive-Tomato Sauce in the August issue of Real Simple and in it, the editors discussed the anchovy’s unfortunate reputation.
While certainly salty and fishy when eaten alone, “When used in small quantities, anchovies can add stealthy umami and a savory richness.” Umami might just be my favorite culinary description so I was intrigued enough to give anchovies a whirl while cooking. Although I veered off-course in terms of technique – nothing is more savory and umamified than roasted tomatoes – I stayed fairly faithful to the spirit of Real Simple‘s original rendition.
I have to say, this is one of the easiest yet tastiest dinners I’ve made in awhile. It is absolutely ripe with rich, complex flavors despite its relatively concise ingredient list. I can’t recommend it highly enough, whether it’s high summer or the doldrums of winter. And if you weren’t the one who made this dish, you’d likely have no idea there were any anchovies in it at all.
Roasted Tomato and Kalamata Olive Pasta Sauce
Inspired by a recipe in Real Simple
2 pounds tomatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks – $6.50
1 teaspoon sugar – stock
Salt & pepper – stock
¼-cup olive oil, plus some for drizzling on the tomatoes – stock
4 anchovy fillets, finely chopped (you want the ones packed in oil) – $1.79
1 clove of garlic, pressed or minced – stock
½-cup pitted Kalamata olives, chopped (preferably Kalamatas, but pitted green olives would also work) – $2.00
½-teaspoon red pepper flakes – stock
¾-pound spaghetti – $1.49
Fresh basil and/or grated Parmesan for serving (optional)
Grand total assuming “well-stocked” kitchen: $11.78
Cost per serving: $2.94
1. Preheat the oven to 400. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine the chunks of tomato with sugar, salt, pepper and a big drizzle of olive oil. Toss well to combine.
2. Arrange the tomato chunks, skin side down, on the parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake for 20 minutes, until the tomatoes have rendered their juices and are starting to brown around the edges.
3. In a large bowl, combine the roasted tomatoes, anchovies, garlic, olive oil, red pepper flakes, some freshly ground black pepper and about ½ a teaspoon of kosher salt. Let sit for at least 10 minutes, so flavors mingle.
4. Cook the spaghetti in salted water until al dente, or according to package directions. Drain.
5. Add the spaghetti to the bowl with the sauce, toss well and serve warm, garnished with torn basil and/or Parmesan, if desired.