Mimi's Spaghetti w/ Bagna Cauda

You know my love for anchovies is real.

I buy very good quality oil packed fishies from Italy, they are more mild than the usual ones and not as salty.

So many people say they HATE anchovies.  Blah blah.

I think they were frightened as a child, when someone in their family ordered a pizza topped with them.   No thanks.

When they are cooked in a sauce, or blended in dressing, they create an umami that makes a dish sing.  (and most people don't even realize that there are anchovies in my beloved Caesar dressing).

I spent a few days with Mimi Thorisson in Piedmont in June, and she used a lot of anchovies in her cooking.    

This recipe is from her lovely cook book Old World Italian.

It is a bit of a production, so I simplified it by making my roasted peppers under the broiler (takes 5 minutes)......and I always have a stash of homemade breadcrumbs in the freezer (made with garlic, bread, Pecorino and parsley), so this was one of those easy pantry meals.

Here is how I made it.

For the anchovy "cream":
1 can of anchovies in oil
2 tbsp of good olive oil
1 tbsp cold water

Blend this in a mini food processor to make a creamy sauce.  You can make this ahead and refrigerate for 3 days.

For the breadcrumbs:
 In a skillet, cook some panko with grated garlic, some cheese and a little bit of olive oil.  I add parsley too.   Cook this about 5 minutes, until getting nice and golden brown.   I make a big batch and keep in the freezer for meals like this.

For the roasted peppers: 
 Slice your bell peppers into quarters, remove ribs and seeds.   Lay on an aluminum foil lined sheet pan and place under gas or electric broiler in the oven for about 8 minutes, until your peppers are blistering.

Remove to a plastic container (or cover them in the foil they were cooked on), and let them steam.   The peels come off very easily once they are cool enough to handle.

Slice into thinner pieces to top your spaghetti with.
Drizzle with olive oil and store up to one week.

Ok, you know how to cook spaghetti right?

Start your salted water boiling for the pasta and cook as per directions.

While the pasta is cooking.......

Get a large skillet ready on the stove and heat about 2 tbsp of butter with 2 minced garlic cloves (cook this about 2 minutes before your pasta is done).

Add your cooked pasta directly into the pan with the butter and garlic and pour in the anchovy cream.   Add about 1/4 cup of the starchy pasta water to thicken the sauce.

Plate into bowls and serve your roasted peppers on top of the spaghetti with a nice row of the garlicky breadcrumbs around the edge.    You can mix it up later.

This sounds like a pain to make, but I promise, it's nothing but peasant food and a great easy weeknight pantry meal.