Monday, May 28, 2012

'Pasta con l'anciova', breadcrumb is the secret!


Do you know how to make one of the most renowned Sicilian pasta dish? It's what we call "pasta cu l'anciova" which literally means pasta with anchovies, but we also have another main ingredient which is tomato puree. When you will prepare it you will smell the parfume of Sicily!!!

Ingredients & preparation for 4 people:
400 gr - pasta (better if Margherite - see photo below) - 150 gr tomato puree or extract - 1 clove of garlic - 5-6 anchovies - 6 spoons of breadcrumb - extra virgin olive oil - *Perfect for vegeterians as well!

First of all, you probably know that we have tons of different shapes of pasta. For this specific one we don't use normal spaghetti, but the so-called "Margherite" which are long, thick, half straight and half curly!

Let's start with putting on the pot for the pasta as usual. For preparing the sauce: in a sauce pan, on a medium heat pour a drizzle of oil of olive (e.v.o) and a clove of garlic. After a minute put the anchovies and with a a wooden scoop or a spatula cut them into tiny pieces until they are completely melted. Now it's time to add the tomato puree, which is usually quite dense and thick. Use the same wooden tool.

In the meantime if the water is boiling, salt it and drop the pasta in (if you don't find the margherite just use spaghetti or penne). With a dipper pour some water pasta in the sauce to help the puree melt easier and quicker. You will see that it will look like a proper sauce in few moments.

The amount of water that you add depends on the rest of the ingredients, especially the tomato extract so be careful in balancing because we don't want the sauce neither too dense (remember that we have to add the breadcrumb) nor too watery.
Once the sauce is done put a frying pan on a high heat with 5 or 6 spoons of breadcrumbs, add some olive oil and start mixing the two with a spoon, stirring continuously as we don't want to burn the breadcrumb on a side. This is important because it will substitute the usual grated cheese that we normally put on pasta dishes. 

Little bit of story: The origin of this recipe is obviously a very poor one, infact people in ancient times couldn't afford to buy cheese to put on pasta, so they created this solution that was definetely cheaper!!!
Everything is ready now, drain the pasta and mix it well with the sauce.
If you are uncertain about the quantity of sauce I would say: better to be abundant in this specific case, because as I said before we don't want to eat something that is too dry. Now do the dishes adding a little bit of what we call "muddica atturrata", which is the toasted breadcrumb which we usually bring on the table inside the gravy boat, just as shown in this pic on the right.

Tip: To avoid the sauce from being too dense and dry, better to leave aside (for example in a mug or bowl) some water where the pasta has cooked, so that you can add it in case you need it. Eat straight away and enjoy!!!