Memorial day afternoon I had a guest over for a visit and as our conversation ran into dinnertime I rattled my brain to think up a quick, light, but delicious meal to prepare. Naturally I was drawn to one of my favorite quick meals, one I enjoy often whether alone or feeding guests. Food researchers have learned that people rotate ten meals over the course of a week, but the same ten meals week after week. I enjoy a much more varied rotation of meals, however this one particular dish works for me regardless of whether it is a snowy winter day or a spring evening. Just one of those things I guess, where the flavors come together in such a way that they leave a lingering memory on my tongue.
The sauce is easy and simple to make and I can vary the greens that I use and sometimes the noodles, although I prefer the Japanese noodles, either the soba or udon varieties.
1 2-ounce tin flat anchovies in olive oil
3 large cloves garlic, sliced
1/4-cup extra virgin olive oil
Now, what I’ve learned, albeit the hard way, is not, repeat not, to drop the anchovies into a hot skillet of oil. This will only produce an angry dance of boiling oil as the anchovies release any moisture they still have. I even bought an oil splatter devise to cut down on the inevitable coating of anchovy oil raining onto my stovetop and, really, anything within a foot of the skillet. Then one day, for no other reason than to try and avoid the oil splatter, and because my splatter device had gone missing, I placed the anchovies, their oil, the garlic and the olive oil in a small iron skillet and brought it up to heat slowly. Well, low and behold, not a splatter or sputter. The oil heated to a boil, the anchovies dissolved and the garlic cooked to perfection. Hallelujah!
As for the noodles, I prefer the spelt soba noodles made by Eden Foods. To cook them I bring a pot of water to a boil, add a teaspoon of sea salt, then break the noodles in half as I add them to the boiling water, stirring well to separate the noodles. I realize that this may be a sacrilege amongst connoisseurs of noodle cooking, but it gives me the length of noodle I like to eat without having to do a lot of noodle slurping through pursed lips. I also add a variety of fresh greens to the pot with the noodles. This can consist of a few handfuls of either spinach, Swiss chard, dandelion greens, kale or broccoli florets. Once everything is submerged in the water I bring it back up to almost a boil, cover the pot, turn off the heat and let it all sit tight for 8-10 minutes. Meanwhile, I get the anchovy sauce heating, so that everything is ready once I drain the pasta and place it in a big bowl.
At this point you can do one of a few things. If I am in the Transition Phase of the Cleanse then I will pour the anchovy sauce over the pasta and greens, toss well and serve. Other times I might grate some Romano sheep’s cheese over the noodles or toss in some soft goats Chevre cheese to melt and coat the noodles. Any one of the three suggestions work well and with a side of fresh, grilled asparagus and a salad of garden arugula, fennel, and toasted walnuts my meal is complete, all within a matter of 20 minutes or less.