01 October 2014

Crazy about Pasta, Tomatoes and Anchovies

I've been cooking pasta quite frequently for lunch because it is a quick and easy dish to prepare, allows me to use up leftover bits of ingredients lurking in the fridge, and since I discovered the wonders of anchovies. I can't seem to resist buying pasta every time I walk down the pasta aisle, especially since the variety available in the supermarket has really grown over the years. So this recent pasta phase has proven useful in clearing the many stashes of dried pasta that have been accumulating across the kitchen. 

Along with buying too much pasta, I usually obsess over making sure I have at least a couple of cans of diced tomatoes in the kitchen. Ed knows my obsession very well and knows better than to stand between me and a shelf full of canned tomatoes ON SALE. I can't help it that they are so incredibly handy to have around for last minute pasta sauces or late night gazpachos. But I do admit that it is ridiculous to have anxiety attacks over whether I need to replenish my stock. I think my all-time high must be 6 cans of tomatoes... just hanging around. I fear my latest anchovy phase might join the ranks of canned tomatoes. 

But they really are just. so. incredible. I add only just enough to get the umami kick and this almost imperceptible layer of flavour that leaves people wondering and wanting more. It is like I have finally discovered the magic ingredient (that is not msg) to bring my pasta dishes up one notch. 

Inspired by the amazing mushroom pesto pasta I had in Perth, I concocted something similar from white button mushrooms, hand-chopped cilantro and parsley, mixed with minced garlic, a generous dollop of tahini, and some anchovies of course. I also added some minced beef to the mix for the protein. This was delicious, especially with a heavy-handed scatter of parmesan. 

It also kept surprisingly well in the fridge. The next day, I just added a little more olive oil and some water, reheated it over the stove and added some chilli for a good spicy kick. (Pictured below) I reckon it tasted even better than the day before! Overnight pasta usually gets too soft and even mushy, but the Bavette held up superbly. (Another reason to stock up?)

Unsurprisingly, I also made a tomato-based pasta. I combined just a few simple ingredients - minced pork, anchovies, canned tomatoes and parsley. A deceptively basic dish that was so good I could eat the sauce on its own. 

The many dishes one can come up with, with just those few staples is endless! Okay, maybe not endless, but surely plentiful. And then today, fate led me to this recipe for a Chinese Sausage Carbonara aka Lap Cheong Carbonara. Maybe lap cheong will be my new fetish? 

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