Venetian anchovy sauce served with fresh pasta
Venetian anchovy sauce served with fresh pasta, sometimes whole wheat thick spaghetti but more often than not, tagliatelle. This is the most divine store cupboard dish and a hit even with the fiercest sceptic. A perfect home-from-work dish that is steeped in history.
For the pasta:
100g ‘00’ pasta flour
100g fine semolina flour (grano duro di semola)
A splash of olive oil
2 large eggs (best quality)
Additional semonlina for rolling out
For the bigoli sauce:
3 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely sliced (mezza luna, ‘half moons’)
2 garlic cloves left whole
125g good quality anchovy fillets in oil
A generous handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
Prepare the pasta—working on a wooden table or board is ideal. Tip both flours onto the table, make a generous rabbit hole with the flours, add a splash of oil and crack in both eggs, 1 at a time.
Using a fork, mix only the eggs so that they are well combined and slack; they should fall off your fork at a height in a fine string.
Now start flicking in the flours to form a thick paste. That is what pasta means: paste. Massage and knead your pasta until it is strong and soft, like silk, which should take 6-8 mins. Now flatten your pasta—it should have a light spring—and wrap well. Place in the fridge and relax for 10 mins.
Remove from the fridge, divide into two equal parts and keep one half covered. Roll with a wooden rolling pin into a rectangle—the pasta will need a generous sprinkling of semolina. The pasta should be so thin that you can read recipes through it, or blow on the pasta and it should be light, like a silk scarf in a breeze.
The pasta at this stage will be semi-dry. Sprinkle a little semolina over the surface of your rectangle. Fold the bottom half to the middle and fold the top half to the middle to meet the bottom half. Keep bringing in the pasta to meet in the middle. You will now have your pasta folded into a neat rectangle.
With a sharp knife, cut all the way through your pasta. The pieces should be fine, as you are making tagliatelle. Take a large knife, thread it under the cut pasta and lift up, blade downwards. The pasta will hang beautifully off the knife. Leave in a pile. Repeat with the other half of your pasta.
To prepare the sauce, heat the olive oil in a medium to large sized pan. Add the onion and cook very gently for 10 mins over a low heat, stirring from time to time. Add the whole garlic cloves.
Add the anchovies to the pan and cook for 15 mins very slowly. A rich, puréed sauce should form.
Cook the pasta in a pan of rolling boiling salted water, for approximately 2 mins. Drain and add to the anchovy sauce, removing the whole garlic cloves.
Add parsley and black pepper, possibly salt. Serve immediately.
Recipe: Ursula Ferrigno