Culinary heritage of the poor south

Pasta is the culinary heritage of the people of Mezzogiorno, the poor south of the Apennine boot. Pasta dishes are quickly prepared, filling, cheap, and come in a thousand varieties. Anchovies in oil have a similarly versatile character, and this may be the reason they’re an excellent accompaniment to pasta of all shapes and sizes. Alora, pasta uno, due, tre!

Uno
Salted anchovy pesto with dried porcini mushrooms

Ingredients

8 salted anchovy fillets in oil ~1 oz (~25 g)

1.5 oz (35 g) dried porcini mushrooms

3 tablespoons breadcrumbs ~1 oz (~25 g)

bunch of fresh parsley

2 cloves garlic

4 tablespoons delicate olive oil

pinch of freshly ground black pepper

= serves 2 students

Grinding the dried porcini mushrooms

Coarsely grind the dried porcini mushrooms in a food processor, then transfer them into a coffee grinder and grind them into a powder. This step is key, since we won’t be frying the pesto; it’s going straight onto the hot pasta!

Puréeing the pesto

Transfer the finely ground porcini powder back into the food processor, add breadcrumbs, the peeled garlic, the picked parsley leaves, a pinch of ground pepper and drained anchovies. Grind the pesto at high speed for a minute or two, until it becomes thick and uniform, then reduce the speed and slowly add the olive oil, which gives the pesto its juiciness.

Cooking the pasta

See below →

Using the pesto

Let the pesto sit at room temperature for 10 minutes, so that the flavours blend and all the bits soak up the oil, softening further. Mix it in with the hot pasta and serve the dish with a glass of good wine.


Wine pairings

See below →


Due
Salted anchovy pesto with black olives

Ingredients

12 salted anchovy fillets in oil ~1.5 oz (~35 g)

5 oz (150 g) preserved black olives

2 cloves garlic

1 teaspoon fresh or dried rosemary

pinch of hot paprika

2 oz (0.5 dl) olive oil

= serves 2 workers

Preparing the vegetables and olives

Rinse the parsley under running water and remove the leaves. Peel the garlic and finely chop it along with the parsley.

Pit the black olives and roughly chop them along with the drained salted anchovies.

Pan-frying the ingredients

Heat the olive oil in a large pan and briefly fry the hot paprika and rosemary until they release their aroma. Add the garlic and parsley and fry for 1 minute, until the garlic turns yellow. Add the coarsely chopped olives and salted anchovies, then fry for another 2 to 3 minutes.

Cooking the pasta

See below →

Using the pesto

Mix the pesto in with the hot pasta, give it a good stir and serve immediately.


Wine pairings

See below →


Tre
Salted anchovy pesto with sun-dried tomatoes

Ingredients

8 salted anchovy fillets in oil ~1.5 oz (~35 g)

8 sun-dried tomatoes in oil

3.5 oz (100 g) breadcrumbs

3.5 oz (100 g) hard sheep milk cheese or Parmesan cheese

2 cloves garlic

1 teaspoon fresh or dried marjoram

= serves 2 intellectuals

Puréeing the ingredients

Take the sun-dried tomatoes and anchovy fillets out of the oil and drain them well. Peel the garlic and coarsely chop it. Measure out the breadcrumbs and cheese. Use a food processor to purée all the ingredients into a smooth paste, then add the marjoram.

Let the pesto sit for 10 minutes, allowing the ingredients to blend and breadcrumbs to soften.

Cooking the pasta

See below →

Using the pesto

If you want, you can briefly fry the pesto in a pan with 3 tablespoons of olive oil or you can mix it in with the hot pasta raw.


Wine pairings

See below →


Cooking the pasta

INGREDIENTS

9 oz (250 g) wheat pasta of choice

1 gal (4 l) water

2 teaspoons coarse sea salt

= serves 2 eaters

Preparing the water for pasta

Pour approximately 4 l (1 gal) of cold water into a large pot and add 2 teaspoons of salt. Bring the water to a boil over high heat.

Cooking the pasta

Add the selected pasta and cook them uncovered, following the cooking time listed on the packaging. I usually cook the pasta one minute less than the listed cooking time, because the pasta is still “cooking” while it’s drained and mixed in with the sauce. Additionally, the cooking time is adjusted to cater to the average user, whose perception of al dente is gentler and softer than that of an orthodox pasta lover. While cooking, stir the pasta repeatedly to keep it from sticking.

Once the suggested cooking time has elapsed, drain the pasta and set aside 2 tablespoons of pasta water.

Adding the sauce

Move the hot pasta back into the pot, add the pesto of choice and the pasta water you set aside earlier, and give the dish a good stir. Let the pasta sit for a minute, then arrange it on plates and serve with a good wine.


Wine pairings

Bold and potent sauces require wines of equally strong character: try the dry Furmint, a mature Malvasia, or the young Barbera. The three strong pestos aren’t even afraid of the Refosco or Terrano.