Pasta with Anchovies, Currants, Fennel and Pine Nuts

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While eating this, I impulsively exclaimed to my husband, “I love pasta.” I really do. I could eat pasta ever single night of the week, and for lunch too and never get tired of it. I wish I liked whole wheat pasta more, since I know they have stripped all the nutrients out to make my lovely white flour pasta, but I don’t. I like white bread better than whole wheat too, these are my issues, and I’m working on them.

Whenever I get a new cookbook, I invariably turn to the pasta section first. While I occasionally find the same old, same old, I am always struck by the infinite combination of ingredients that can be tossed into pasta. Like this dish for example, Pasta with Anchovies, Currants, Fennel and Pine Nuts. I just happened to have all of the ingredients that I needed to make this, and no, I don’t usually keep fennel bulbs around, but I had one from some recipe that I decided not to make. This was wonderful and easy. The fennel and the onions cooked together made a sweet combination, pairing beautifully. The recipe calls for toasted breadcrumbs, which I toasted with a little of the olive oil in the skillet before beginning the rest of the recipe.

I got this from my (I know you’re tired of me saying this) new favorite cookbook, The Bon Appetit Cookbook: Fast Easy Fresh, but you can also find it on-line by following the link above and I’ve included it down below for you. I am nothing if not accommodating.

Pasta with Anchovies, Currants, Fennel and Pine Nuts
Serves 4

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 anchovy fillets
1 large onion, very thinly sliced
1 large fresh fennel bulb, trimmed, halved, very thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup dried currants
3/4 pound linguine
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs, toasted

Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add anchovies; mash with back of fork. Add the onion, fennel, and red pepper. Sauté vegetables until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, pine nuts, and currants. Reduce heat to low and cook 5 minutes to blend the flavors; season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite.

Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid. Add saffron to reserved liquid and stir to dissolve. Return pasta and saffron water to pot. Add tomato mixture; toss over low heat until sauce coats pasta. Mix in breadcrumbs and transfer to bowl.


This will be my entry for this week’s extra special Presto Pasta Nights, it’s the 100th round-up celebration, and of course, it’s being hosted by Ruth at Once Upon a Feast.

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  1. says

    I am not a fan of anchovies, however, I do not mind anchovie paste. I wonder if I could replace it. I grew fennel this summer but didn’t know when to harvest it so I didn’t. I hope it comes back next year.

  2. says

    I say that about pasta at least five times a week. It is a serious addiction. I also judge cookbooks by their pasta recipes, and by how many recipes they have that incorporate butternut squash and sweet potatoes in new and interesting ways. Great recipe! You are making me look into buying this cookbook…

  3. says

    Oh YUM! Love it! Gosh, this looks so good and so many levels. I prefer just regular old semolina type pastas, too. I love anchovies, and anything with pine nuts in it is fine with me! Gee, I want this and it’s only 7:30 am! :-)

  4. says

    Great combination of flavors here. Say, I found that the new Barilla whole grain pastas are pretty good. Maybe because it’s made with (only) 51% whole wheat.

    P.S. I answered your question about the Lima Beans on my blog in the comment section. Thanks for asking.

  5. says

    My oldest son laments the fact that his red haired parents are not Italian. He adores pasta. Me, not so much, but I don’t care that much for starches in general. As for learning to love wheat pasta and wheat bread, well, you like what you like, and who’s to tell you it’s wrong?

    Your food pictures always make me drool, and that’s not a pretty sight!

  6. says

    I am with you at pasta, but my true love is a good bread. I bake them every 8 to 10 days and I became pretty good with my breads. I also agree with you on whole wheat pasta–forget it. Bread, I do add some whole wheat flour to white but never more than 1/3. That way they become more wholesome without harming the flavor and texture.

    Check out my latest (Nov/08).

    Tried and True Recipes from a Caterer’s Kitchen—Secrets of Making Great Foods

    On Amazon, etc.

  7. says

    I like pasta, but I LOVE anchovies! The combination sounds very interesting. Will definitely bookmark this one.

    I’m with you on the whole wheat vs. white. I can not eat wheat pasta and I prefer white bread. I definitely do not like brown rice. I guess I need to work on this too.

  8. Pam says

    Katherine – I’m glad to have a fellow pasta lover on board.

    Terri – I’ve never tried anchovie paste.

    Joanne – It really is a great book.

    Paula – thank you!

    Shabby – they all go together so nicely.

    LL – I’ll have to look for that pasta, and thanks, I’m off to check your blog to see about the Christmas limas.

    Marjie – I can’t even fathom not caring much for starches. Starches are my best friends.

    Pearl – this is the second pasta that I’ve tried with pine nuts. They really work well.

    Pam – I don’t even know what currants are, they look like small raisins!

    George – I’m going to try adding some whole wheat to my breads too, a little at a time.

    Joy – I panic if I don’t have a completely stocked pantry and fridge.

    E4H – pasta is good.

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