Things In Tins: The Tinned Anchovy

Things in Tins: an ongoing series by Sophie Tevlin

Hello, and welcome to Things In Tins, a series of recipes featuring tinned ingredients and their central role in a cook’s arsenal. This week, it’s the humble tinned anchovy, a severely underrated kitchen staple. A small tin costs 99 cent in any of the big supermarkets, and they’re full of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. This is a great pasta recipe for when you’re a bit sick of tomato-based sauces and want something with a big flavour kick. It takes about twenty minutes from start to finish, and produces something so intensely tasty it’s difficult to resist going back for seconds. Don’t be afraid if you’re new to anchovies – texturally you’re not even going to notice them here. They’re going to melt into the sauce and give it its salty umami layer of flavour.

I mourn when I think of all the broccoli stalks I’ve blithely thrown away over the years, not realising that they are not only edible, but delicious.

You will need: a head of broccoli, a tin of anchovies, a few cloves of garlic, one chilli or some dried chilli flakes or a bit of harissa, enough fusilli or similar pasta for two servings, olive oil, and salt.

Chop the broccoli, dividing it into small florets and stalk. Cut the pieces of broccoli stalk up into small cubes and put them into a frying pan you’ve heated some olive oil in. Soften them over a low heat.

Tip the fusilli and broccoli florets into a pan of boiling salted water, and cook until the pasta is as soft or as al dente as you like it. Don’t worry if the florets have disintegrated into mush, it’s supposed to be like that. While the pasta is cooking, drain the anchovies and chop them, then add them to the pieces of broccoli stalk. Stir them around a bit until they dissolve. Add the chopped chilli or whatever it is you’re using and the chopped garlic, and sauté gently until everything looks cooked and smells good. Drain your pasta and put it back in the pan, then add the stalk mixture to it and stir.

Serve in bowls with finely grated Parmesan and a knob of butter. This is enough for two people, or one dinner and one lunchbox the next day, though it smells savoury and quite strongly of garlic, so don’t get caught heating it in the communal microwave.