Anchovies add depth to many dishes

The Spendid Table

The Spendid Table

July 31, 2009|By LYNNE ROSSETTO KASPER / Scripps Howard News Service

Dear Lynne: We love anchovies and are hunting down new ways of using them. Any thoughts? -- Howie and Doug

Dear Howie and Doug: Let me count the ways. Anchovies marry with any form of acid, from vinegars to lemon and lime, which also mutes their impact. Garlic, onion and flavorful fats such as butter and olive oil all work brilliantly with anchovies.

They are loaded with umami (the so-called fifth taste), an element in certain foods that lifts the flavors of everything it's blended with. This means that blending a little anchovy with a Mediterranean grilling rub -- made up of red wine, olive oil, garlic and lots of basil -- will help all the flavors blossom while the anchovy will fade into the background.


o Makes about 3/4 cup and doubles easily.

The Tuscan side of our family does an anchovy condiment-cum-sauce that any anchovy lover would enjoy for summer meals.


It goes like this:

Rinse and drain two 2-ounce tins of anchovies packed in olive oil. Mash them in a bowl with 1/3 cup minced onion, 2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and 1 or 2 minced garlic cloves. Stir in 2 tablespoons (or more to taste) of lemon juice and let stand 20 minutes (this mutes the heat of the onion and garlic). Just before using, blend in 3 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley. The sauce keeps in the refrigerator for several days.

How to use:

o The family always spreads this on grilled bread and on raw or cooked vegetables.

o Simple boiled red-skin potatoes are fabulous tossed with the mix.

o Grilled eggplant gets a great finish when topped with the anchovy sauce and extra lemon.

o Just about every green vegetable tastes better for meeting up with this sauce, especially broccoli and green beans.

o Double the recipe for an instant pasta sauce, adding a few cut-up tomatoes, pasta water and lots of black pepper. Taste for seasoning, and add more lemon juice if you want.

Dear Lynne: What is proper olive etiquette? I really dig olives, but how do you get the pits out of your mouth without grossing out everyone? -- Geoff in San Mateo

Dear Geoff: Unobtrusive is the key here. And trust me, if you are in a group of people who don't know each other very well, the first person to get rid of the pit will offer relief for all the others who've been trying to figure out what to do with the darn thing now that they impulsively grabbed an olive.

As with watermelon seeds, you unobtrusively eject them into your fingers or a napkin and put them on the side of your plate or in the bowl that a clued-in host should provide.

Dear Lynne: Do you have any thoughts on really inexpensive wines that are good for summer? -- Dannie from West Orange

Dear Dannie: Serve up a big bruiser cabernet in the heat, and you'll learn firsthand what torture even great wine can be.

In other words, if there's ever a time when you can get away with super-inexpensive wine, this is it.

Summer demands wines that are low in alcohol (check the label for 11 percent to 12 percent), have not been exposed to oak (this eliminates most chardonnays and big reds) and can be chilled. Fruity wines, and those that taste tart and crisp, work best in the heat. Those characteristics, especially in whites, usually come from cooler climates such as the Pacific Northwest, the mountains of Argentina and Chile, northern France's Alsace, and into Germany and Austria.

In whites, look for drier rieslings, sauvignon blanc, pinot gris, pinot grigio, chenin blanc blends, Portugal's vinho verde, Argentina's torrontes, French wines such as macon and muscadet from the Loire Valley, and red and white wines from the Languedoc and Luberon regions. Don't ignore Spanish whites such as albarino.

In reds, check out Spain's tempranillos and Argentina's bold malbec, and, from anywhere around the globe, merlot, cabernet franc, chinon and roses.

For some dirt-cheap decent drinking, try Terrai Tempranillo, Pavao Vinho Verde, Barefoot wines from California, and from Hogue Cellars and Chateau St. Michelle in the Pacific Northwest. Those are just to name a few.

(Lynne Rossetto Kasper hosts "The Splendid Table," American Public Media's weekly national show for people who love eat. She's the co-author of "The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper: Recipes, Stories and Opinions." Ask questions and find Lynne, recipes and station listings at

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