My very first experience with anchovies was kind of a practical joke from my big brothers. They were ordering pizza at a local place for us when I was about six or seven, and one of them looked at me enthusiastically and asked, “Hey Ariana, do you want anchovies on your pizza?” Always game for something new, I said, “Sure!” Of course, I was the only one who had these tiny little fish on their slice when it arrived. And it was not what I had hoped for, flavor-wise. I remember it distinctly. I also remember the amusement of my siblings as they watched my face when I took that big bite. Nice.
I have one last recipe to share with you from The Nourished Kitchen cookbook. I chose this recipe for a few reasons. First of all, anchovies get a bad rap. A lot of people had a first experience with them similar to my own, and most of us just didn’t grow up eating these little fishes. But anchovies are delicious, sustainable, and very nourishing.
The second reason I wanted to share this recipe is… Because it looks so darned delicious! And simple. I think seafood is best when it’s treated very simply. Because sardines are oily fish (in the best possible way) they do well with some acid like the tomatoes and white wine in this recipe. And baking them with onions and fennel will allow all of the flavors to meld in the most beautiful way. I need to go get some anchovies! This is a great dish for summertime, when you have fennel, tomatoes and basil all in season. I imagine it as a really wonderful appetizer or light dinner with some olives and a bottle of wine outside on the patio.
Jenny suggests mopping the juices up with bread. That sounds wonderful. I know many of you don’t do bread, so I would recommend grilling some eggplant slices to eat this with– it’s one of our very favorite grain-free tricks!
Baked Anchovies With Fennel, Tomatoes, And Basil
Anchovies, like sardines, are underloved by those who’ve yet to taste them prepared well. The small, silvery fish pair nicely with strong, robustly flavored ingredients like the tomatoes, fennel, and basil in this simple casserole. I serve these baked anchovies with a loaf of freshly baked Einkorn Wheat and Herb Bread. Once you’ve finished with the fillets, tear off a hunk of bread and sop up the remaining juices.
Serves 4 to 6
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, and sliced paper thin
8 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 bay leaves
2 pounds cleaned anchovies
1 teaspoon finely ground unrefined sea salt
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Warm the olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Stir in the onion and garlic and sauté until softened, about 4 minutes. Stir in the fennel and continue sautéing for 1 to 2 minutes, until fragrant.
Stir in the tomatoes, wine, and bay leaves. Increase the heat to medium and simmer the sauce for 8 to 10 minutes,
until the tomatoes soften slightly. Turn off the heat.
Arrange the anchovies in a shallow 10-inch round casserole dish and sprinkle them with the salt. Pour the sauce over the anchovies and sprinkle with the basil.
Bake the anchovies for 35 to 40 minutes, or until cooked through. Serve warm.
And now I’m super-hungry. We’ll definitely be eating this soon!
What was your experience with anchovies? Do you love them? Are you wanting to try them? I hope you will!
By the way, The Nourished Kitchen has been so popular that it sold out from Amazon almost right away! It’s already been through its second printing, and is available again. In case you haven’t seen it yet, here’s Amelia’s review of her new favorite cook book:
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