“My Childhood wasn’t full of wonderful Culinary Memories.”
– Thomas Keller
(American chef, restaurateur, and cookbook writer)
So was mine! Nothing can replace mom’s cooking, of course, but it was limited to what our regional tradition dictated. So would have I remained a mediocre cook, making Idli, Dosa, Sambhar, Chutney, if and only if I hadn’t met a foodie husband who can think, feel, dance with, sing to and even paint F-o-o-d. In the beginning, I couldn’t understand why somebody would spend money to enroll in a cooking class when there’s so much available online; why somebody would cross the oceans just to take part in a food fest and why someone would be interested in the life history of the columnist who wrote on food in the Hindu daily, while to me, ‘exotic’ food meant having a masala dosa at nearby vegetarian restaurant.
Four years past now, not only am I a converted non-vegetarian and a street food enthusiast, but also, a reviewer of food and restaurants 🙄 Hah! I’ve travelled from so little to so much of food, all because of a bon viveur. To his love of food and its significant transforming effect on my eat-something-to-live neurotransmitters, here I dedicate this recipe, of his taste. He has a strong tongue for flavours, the one that can bond with extremes of tanginess, crunchiness and fishyness, specifically. You shall see here, what gets chosen for the recipe and how it gets done in my hands.
History of my Recipe (Actually, it’s the Geography) 😆
Recently, we had been to an European fine dining place, the review of which you can read here. One thing I picked up from there was that H has immense affection for Italian cuisines and specifically for Anchovies, not that Anchovy is Italian alone, just that he liked the Italian form of it. That gives me a good reason to choose Anchovy in the first place with an Italian pasta that can be accompanied by a tangy tomato sauce; yet another of H’s fondness.
Are you sure, you can cook Italian?
It’s okay if you want to question this! Well, I had been into a cooking expedition last year, trying cuisines of the world, starting from the West. I did cover quite a few tastes of American, Mexican, Caribbean, Moroccan and European dishes. So that says why and how I know a little of Italian cooking; just a little because I believe Italian tastes have a unique depth of culture and skill of their own.
Can you describe Italian Food?
I shall make an attempt.
If I will have to prod you to imagine Italian, I will first let you form a vision of long-stretched tomato fields because from sauces to soup, tomatoes form the base for most Italian food. Next, imagine Arborio rice or pasta growing to a vast extent across the tomato fields as these are the common staple food of Italy. Sprinkle garlic all over now; its omnipresent in their diets. Sow meat, chicken, sausage, mushroom or vegetables of your choices, of course in pure olive oil. Baptize the land with seasonings of fresh basil, thyme, oregano, capers, olives, cloves, pine nuts or sage. Shred Parmesan or Mozzarella cheese across the baptized land. Finally squirt balsamic vinegar or wine in decent proportions to complete an Italian meal.
Enough, Let’s get to the Point now
I’ve chosen an original Italian recipe of Farfalle Pasta with Anchovy and Tomato Sauce. I cannot pinpoint a single recipe source that I’ve adopted this recipe from. From Jamie Oilver to Briciole blog, I’ve picked up ingredients and flavours of it, in order to create my unique recipe, at the same time, took care not to drift away from the authentic Italian way.
Here I begin, giving it style with a one-of-a-kind name and tag line (solely, my patent, mind it!) 😆
Crunchy, Cheesy, Tangy, Fishy Bowties
As the crunchiness breaks open with a bang, your taste buds get to wallop a strong, tangy flavour of the Anchovies in Tomatoes along with the soft Farfalle Pasta with piquancy from Basil, Thyme and Oregano, while the Mozzarella Cheese slashes through all of it!
Crunchy, Cheesy, Tangy, Fishy Bowties is an easy-to-make pasta dish that can make a good breakfast or dinner. Here’s a quick look into all that I am going to include in this recipe.
I chose Del Monte Gourmet Farfalle Pasta for this recipe. I love them for their butterfly shape. And, of course it goes well with tomato based sauces. Farfalle is more commonly referred to as bowtie pasta, I am sure I don’t have to explain why and apparently, the source of adoption of the patented name 🙂
Needless to say, there’s going to be a lot of tomatoes in the making. These form a common sauce base for most pasta recipes. Although I would prefer a peppered base than tomatoes just to keep away from common recipe stuff, I couldn’t think of a substitute for the tanginess that tomatoes and tomatoes alone can give. I’ve chosen Del Monte Tomato and Basil Pasta Sauce because it has no artificial flavours and preservatives and also because the Basil in it has a subtle flavour.
Anchovies will act as the heroes of the meal. As said earlier, H is an Anchovy fanatic and they are quite common in Italian cuisines – perfect, isn’t? Where Italy meets H 😆
If you’ve not heard before, Anchovy is a small, sea water fish that gives a strong punch of flavour to dishes. It is quite a common seafood in India though not fairly known with its English name. It’s called Nethili Meen in Tamil, Nethili or Kozhuva in Malayalam, Nethallu in Telugu, Bolingei Kollathuru in Kannada and Kati in Hindi and Marati. The dried, salted form of anchovies are used as pizza toppings in Italy which are generally considered unpleasant. However, the olive oil preserved anchovies that are usually packed in cans give a delicious flavour to pasta sauces. Most often, anchovies blend with the sauce such that they live a hidden presence. And not many can specifically identify the flavour of anchovies, especially when pieces of it cannot be seen in the sauce.
Seasoning & Garnish
For seasoning, I’ve used basil, thyme and oregano. Basil is a kind of what we call as Tulsi in India. While the Tulsi that we grow at home (called the Holy Basil) has a bitter taste, basil drifts to a kind of sweet, minty flavour. It is best to use fresh basil leaves. As I couldn’t get the fresh ones, I’ve used the dried form. Thyme is another herbal seasoning ingredient that gives a minty flavour and generally goes well with tomatoes. And a little dried oregano to spice up the dish. All of these are available in most leading super markets in India.
H likes light cheesy garnishing though he cannot withstand cheesy content. Though Parmesan cheese might be preferred in this dish, I’ve used Mozzarella cheese mainly because of the melting feel it gives. I wish I could find fresh flat leaf parsley, I had to use fresh coriander leaves instead.
All seems well, but have any of you thought how all this is going to give the crunchiness? Alright, that’s a secret twist I am going to make, just for fun, at the end of the pasta-making, primarily to serve the purpose of crunch-crunch feeling that H is fond of. Though not Italian, I take the liberty, inspired by Keller’s words,
“Your idea of that dish has evolved, and if you’re a cook, you can start thinking in different ways about it, maybe even a different way than I think about it.” – Thomas Keller
However, it is not a part of the main pasta dish and definitely not to be taken seriously 😆 though you may want to test if it seems appealing to you.
Recipe: Farfalle Pasta with Anchovy & Tomato Sauce
Yield: Serves 2
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour
Utensils: Non stick Frying Pan (22 cms), Dutch Oven (16×9.5), Strainer or Colander
Del Monte Gourmet Farfalle Pasta: 250 grams
Del Monte Olive Oil: 2 tablespoons
Del Monte Tomato and Basil Pasta Sauce: 150 grams (1/2 bottle)
Tomato Puree: 50 mL
Onions (Finely Chopped): 2 tablespoons
Garlic (Crushed): 3 cloves
Anchovies (Fresh & Cleaned): 6 Fillets
Basil (Dried): 1/2 teaspoon
Thyme (Dried): 1/2 teaspoon
Oregano Dried): 1/2 teaspoon
Salt to taste
Mozzarella Cheese (Shredded): 2 tablespoons
Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley (Roughly Chopped): Handful
Here’s a video of this recipe-making. You can also find the detailed step-by-step instructions below the video:
Preparation of Anchovy
If you are living in other countries, probably you can find canned Anchovies in your place. However, we don’t get one here in India, or may be I am not aware of. So, I’ve bought fresh Anchovies which are no less flavourful than the canned ones. To get it ready for the Pasta-making, remove the head and the central bone and gently mash the fillets using a fork. They have a soft body, so this wouldn’t be a hard job. Alternatively, one can use a mortar and pestle. For your imagination, I’ve pictured the process below. I’ve used 6 fillets of the fish for this recipe which will give a medium flavour. People who prefer a very strong flavour might want to add more Anchovies.
Preparation of Anchovy and Tomato Pasta Sauce
- Heat olive oil in a frying pan.
- Saute chopped onions and crushed garlic for about 4-5 minutes until they become translucent.
- Add the mashed Anchovies and allow them to get cooked for 2 minutes.
- Add Del Monte Tomato and Basil Pasta sauce. Stir well and let it begin to come to a boil.
- Quickly, add tomato puree and mix well with the frying mixture. This is the point where one would decide the consistency of the sauce. You can leave as such if you would want the sauce to be a little thicker, as I did. For a lighter sauce, 1 cup of water can be added.
- Cook for about 10-15 minutes. When the aroma of Anchovies fill the room, you would know that the sauce is coming to its form. Add the seasonings – basil, thyme and oregano and mix well. Add salt to your taste. Remember while using canned Anchovies that they are already salty and you must keep a check on the additional salt. Remove the sauce from the flame once it reaches your desired consistency level.
Preparation of Farfalle Pasta
- Generally, the instructions to make the pasta will be detailed on the pasta packet. Add the required amount of water along with 11/2 spoons of salt. I’ve used a dutch oven here. Any pan, preferably, one with good depth, that can accommodate enough space for the boiling process should work. Let the water come to a boil.
- Add Del Monte Farfalle pasta in the boiling water and allow it to cook for about 8- 13 minutes. Stir the pasta occasionally.
- Cook it until it is just al dente, that is neither crunchy nor too soft; just right to the teeth, as what al dente means!
- Drain the cooked pasta using a colander or a strainer, leaving around 100mL of water in it, else the pasta might quickly turn dry. Add 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil so that the pasta doesn’t stick to each other and to the walls of the pan.
Awh! It’s all getting ready. Add the cute little bow tie pasta on your plate. Top it with the hot, tangy, Anchovy and tomato pasta sauce. Shred Mozzarella cheese all over. Garnish with roughly chopped fresh coriander leaves.
Whoa! Doesn’t it look simply Yummylicious?! Oh, yeah, the taste too was!
The Secret Twist
If you haven’t forgotten yet about the secret crunchy twist I told you about, here it is. H loves crunchy stuff, no matter what kind of dish it may be. And the best crunch I could think of are the puris that we get with the Indian Pani Puris. Yeah, yeah, these are the one that’s going to make the finishing touch of our pasta today.
Small ready-made Puris: 6 Nos
Fresh Coriander Leaves (Finely Chopped): Handful
- Place the puris on the plate.
- Break them open from the top.
- Stuff a spoonful of Farfalle Pasta with Anchovy and Tomato Sauce into the puris.
- Shred Mozzarella Cheese over the puris.
- Garnish with fresh coriander leaves.
When I thought of the puri thing, I assumed it’s going to be just a fun dish with an Indian twist to an Italian cuisine. However, believe me, it was more than fun. It was truly delicious! The feeling of the puri breaking open inside to the tangy sauce with the soft pastas and the cheese staying all the while…..definitely, a meaningful twist!
Well, that makes my Crunchy, Cheesy, Tangy, Fishy Bowties for the fantasy of a food lover!
Wait, did I tell you what happened when H was served with the dish?! Guess what, he concluded that I am getting eligible for Italian cooking classes and promised to arrange one after he’s done with the pasta 🙂 I am simply proud 😆 Shouldn’t I be? For the nth time, I realized that the best tool a wife has, to get into the husband’s heart is food, though it would take the route via his stomach 😆
I would much appreciate if you can please leave a comment of what do you think of this recipe or if you tried to make this one at your home.