Reading some books from the library this week: Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast (about his time in Paris), a collection of essays by M. F. K. Fisher called Love in a Dish, and her book With Bold Knife and Fork. There’s something really wonderful and liberating about enjoying books but not having to own them.
Here’s a beautiful one from Hemingway:
“But then we did not think ever of ourselves as poor. We did not accept it… We ate well and cheaply and drank well and cheaply and slept well and warm together and loved each other” (from A Moveable Feast, 53).
John was gone for a few nights, and I had some salsa verde (a parsley sauce, not the kind with tomatillos) in the fridge that was calling out to be eaten. So I decided to chop up some anchovies and make pasta and eat the pasta with a robust mixture of salsa verde, anchovies, and parmigiano. I had a nice little hunk of the latter just waiting for me in the fridge. (It is worth keeping a little block of it on hand and scraping off pieces onto almost anything you are cooking, if you can afford that. Or if you’re like me and can’t afford that, just scrape off a little every 2 or 3 weeks into some pasta or onto eggs or in a bowl of beans and believe me you will feel like a queen.)
For those of you who say you don’t like anchovies, please trust me, you actually do. Anchovies, when chopped quite fine and thrown into something or other, impart a deep, wild flavor that somehow makes everything else shine and taste richer than ever before without an anchovy. A little tin of anchovies is one of the best uses of pantry space and one of the best ingredients to use in almost anything.
Pasta with Salsa Verde and Anchovies
Salt some pasta water and boil pasta for however many. And by salt, I mean throw a generous handful of real salt into the water as it’s heating. It is nice to actually do this with your bare hands. Prepare or get from the fridge a generous half cup (at least) of salsa verde per person (or just chop up a bunch of parsley and garlic and add a lot of olive oil and some lemon juice), and then chop up 2-3 anchovies per person very finely and add those to the parsley sauce along with some shredded parmesan cheese. Stir those until they are well mixed. If it’s not very moist with olive oil, add a little more.
When the pasta is finished cooking, drain but do not rinse it, and reserve about 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid (about 1/4 c. per 2 or 3 servings, so obviously a shade more if you’re cooking this for 8 people). Add that and the parsley-sardine-parm sauce to the warm pasta, and stir around until fragrant and well-mixed. Serve with generous scrapes of parmigiano reggiano.
The next day when I re-heated the pasta I decided to see how it would be if I broke an egg into the pot and cooked it in. So I did that, and I stirred it around for about 3 minutes until I was relatively sure that the egg was all cooked. The egg sort of disappeared but coated and thickened everything wonderfully. So, well, if you want to add an egg or two, please go right ahead.