I enjoyed all of Nigella’s new series, Cook, Eat, Repeat, but in particular, episode 4 - the one with all the anchovy dishes. Col bought me the cookbook for Christmas, which was brave as he must have known what was coming. He’s not a fully paid up member of the Anchovy Appreciation Association so I know that he won’t tolerate the Anchovy Elixir but the Chard and Anchovy Spaghetti was a maybe (he likes other anchovy pasta dishes like River Cafe’s Tomato and Anchovy Pasta and Alison Roman’s Caramelised Shallot Pasta).
I called up the stairs, “Can you smell the anchovies?”, as they were frying in the pan. “Yes” came the saddest reply I’d ever heard. There is a strong anchovy smell while this dish cooks but the end result doesn’t taste overwhelmingly of anchovies. I loved it but then I would as it contains a lot of my favourite ingredients. Col “didn’t mind” it but prefers anchovy dishes where there are other strong flavours, like shallots or tomatoes, to balance the saltiness.
I’ll happily make this dish again but will throw some cherry tomatoes in towards the end to make it more palatable for the self-proclaimed super taster of the house (pfffft).
As an aside, I’m hugely enjoying the Cook, Eat, Repeat cookbook. It’s beautifully written and this line from the anchovy chapter really made me laugh: “Much as I feel there is scarcely a savoury dish that couldn’t be improved by them, I am aware that anchovies instil disgust in many. The criticism generally levelled against them is that they are too fishy, which seems to me a slightly unfair way to criticise a fish”. I couldn't agree more.
I'm going to make the cream, anchovy and garlic salad dressing next; a subtle, entry-level anchovy dressing that I imagine is similar to Caesar dressing and that I hope will be received with a little more enthusiasm.
I didn’t use hot water from the kettle for the chard; instead I used water that the pasta cooked in. If you’re happy to do the same then don’t bother boiling the kettle in step 1.
I only had 200g of rainbow chard rather than 300g but I don’t think it mattered. The stalks were very fine so I cut them into larger chunks.
Nigella puts a lid on her pan while the chard is cooking but I don’t bother.
Don’t worry if the dish looks a little watery when the pasta joins the chard. The pasta will eventually absorb any excess water and once the cheese is added everything thickens up nicely.
Cook, Eat, Repeat (affiliate link) by Nigella Lawson
- 300g rainbow chard
- dried spaghetti (I used bucatini)
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (plus more to finish)
- 8 anchovy fillets
- 3 large cloves of garlic, chopped
- ¼ tsp dried chili flakes
- 125ml freshly boiled water (or use the pasta water)
- 2-3 tbsp Parmesan cheese (plus more to finish)
- salt and pepper
- Place a large saucepan of salted water over a medium hob for the pasta. Fill and boil the kettle.
- Remove the stalks from 300g of chard, slice the leaves and put them to one side. Slice the stalks into 2cm pieces (or larger if the stalks are fine).
- Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet (reducing by a minute of so for al dente pasta).
- While the pasta is cooking, place a large pan over a low heat (I use a 28cm deep frying pan). Add 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and 8 anchovy fillets, breaking them up with a wooden spoon.
- When the anchovies have mostly dissolved into the oil, add 3 chopped cloves of garlic and ¼ teaspoon of dried chilli flakes to the pan. Fry for a minute making sure that the garlic doesn’t burn then add the sliced chard stalks.
- Add 125ml of freshly boiled water to the pan with the chard stalks then simmer for around 5 minutes until the stalks are tender (larger stalks will take a bit longer).
- Once the chard stalks have softened, add the chard leaves to the pan to wilt - this can take around 2-4 minutes.
- Once the pasta is cooked, rather than draining it in a colander, add it to the chard pan using tongs; the extra starchy pasta water will help to emulsify the sauce. Coat the pasta well with the sauce and chard, adding a little more pasta water if needed.
- Grate 2-3 tablespoons of Parmesan over the pasta, toss to combine and drizzle over a little extra virgin olive oil. Taste to check the seasoning (mine didn’t need any salt) then transfer the pasta to warm dishes, grate over extra Parmesan and drizzle over more olive oil.