While November in Australia is really quite agreeable (not quite so scorching as December), November in New England makes me wish for a fast-forward button. Do we really need all these weeks of cold and rain and dreary grey sky as a prelude to three months of snow?
As you might imagine, November makes me even less inclined to do my reading than usual. Sadly, we've still got several weeks before the semester is over, so I've been loading up on brain food in an effort to maintain focus. (Or what passes for focus by my standards.) Which means - you guessed it - fishy pasta.
This time, it's a take on a traditional Roman recipe for pasta with broccoli and anchovies. A few of the stands at the Copley Square Farmers' Market have been carrying Roman broccoli, which is a wonderfully trippy-looking variety with fractal points. It tastes more like cauliflower than your usual round-headed broccoli, and it has a nuttiness that works nicely with the salt of the fish.
(Photo definitely not mine. It's from Wikimedia Commons.)
The dish is traditionally made with short pasta, like rigatoni or penne, but I was in the mood for fresh pasta, so I made orecchiette ("little ears") instead. I haven't yet gotten the hang of shaping them correctly, but they didn't require a pasta roller, and they're rather satisfying to make.
Now, I know I've called it fishy pasta, and I suspect I'm not going to convince any die-hard anchovy haters, but this dish really doesn't taste all that fishy. The anchovies really just add a salty note.
I suppose you could leave them out... but I wouldn't call it brain food.
Pasta with Roman Broccoli, Anchovies and Sausage
You can omit the sausage without much drama, but I strongly recommend keeping the anchovies in.
(Serves one, with leftovers.)
Set a pot of salted water on to boil.
Heat a generous quantity of olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan over low heat. Add two minced cloves of garlic, a dash of red chili flakes, and one can of anchovies in olive oil. Use a wooden spoon to break up the anchovies.
Once the pasta water reaches a rolling boil, add half a pound of short pasta, shells, or orecchiette. Cook until al dente, then drain and set aside.
Take one Italian sausage (sweet or spicy, your choice), remove it from its casing, and add it in pieces to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned.
Add one head of Roman broccoli, cut into small pieces, followed by one cup of cheap white wine. When the alcohol fumes have burned off, cover and cook until the broccoli is tender.
Remove the cover, add the pasta, and cook until the liquid in the pan has reduced to a light sauce. Serve immediately.