My 7th grade science teacher had a knack for analogies. To explain the difference between a compound and a mixture, he made brownies. Brownies represented a compound; the ingredients, after the baking process, become indistinguishable, and impossible to separate. Flour, sugar, cocoa powder, butter and eggs transform into this treat that is all of the ingredients but none of them.
In a sort of alchemy, even the simplest ingredients can become something wonderful with a little heat, a little attention. You may think you hate anchovies. I get it. Those slimy little filets are not my cup of tea either. But when anchovy paste cooks down in a full-bodied olive oil, it becomes a nutty, savory sauce. The anchovy-haters in your house will have no idea what they are eating, they will just know they love it.
The fragrant anchovy and garlic mixture that coats this pasta will linger in the air, it will make your kitchen smell like the North End of Boston. It’s a smell I’m going to miss. Every night, on my way home from work, all of the prep cooks are in their Hanover Street kitchens sauteing and chopping and the smell of garlic fills the air. My mouth waters, and I’m hungry the minute I walk in the door of the apartment. Maybe this move will be good for my waistline.
The last time we moved, I scrounged up this Bacon Pepper Pasta with the crumbs from the cupboards. This pasta dish is similar in its simplicity. Just a few ingredients, those that linger in the fridge when you haven’t managed to get to the store in a while. You can use linguine or spaghetti if you don’t have bucatini, but I love the toothsome bite of the hollow noodles. And I love that they are so difficult to twirl, so slurpy and messy to eat.
Please forgive me if I don’t manage to post in the next week or two. It might take me that long to find my knives and roasting pans in this mess of boxes.
Bucatini with Garlic, Anchovy, and Oil
1 lb bucatini (or spaghetti)
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons sliced garlic
2 tablespoons anchovy paste
pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water until just al dente. Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water before draining the pasta.
Meanwhile, over medium-low heat, heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the garlic and anchovy paste and cook, stirring, until the garlic begins to brown. Add the pepper flakes if using. Add in the pasta, reserved water, and cheese and toss well to combine, cooking another minute or so. Add the parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Serve with additional cheese at the table.