Dark, glossy greens are good for you. I think they’re even better when served with a generous portion of carbs and a heavy-handed dose of cheese. My new house has a vegetable garden thoughtfully planted out by the previous owners. We have rows of kale, silverbeet and rainbow chard and this gorgeous greenery is making its way into many meals. This one is my favourite. It’s a meaty green dish, the kind that slips in the vegetables without you feeling deprived of anything more substantial. The secret is anchovies.
This is the point where half of you will stop reading. Anchovies are a divisive little fish that can cause strong reactions on the love/hate scale. They’re so pungent and full of flavour that when served improperly, the whack of salty, savoury umami can be too intense.
A hairy, crusty, dried-up piece of brown on a deep-pan pizza is not the best way to eat anchovies. But when a few fillets of quality anchovies are pulled from a jar and melted in a hot pan with olive oil, chilli and garlic, you have a flavour base that will make anything taste good. They’re basically nature’s MSG.
Have I convinced you to try it? Please do. You will taste a hint of fishiness, but mostly just awesome, savoury flavour. If you really just can’t bring yourself to open a jar of anchovies, you could substitute bacon, sausage or pancetta.
This sauce works best with a pasta that is sturdy enough to withstand a really good stir, this distributes the greens evenly. I tried the sauce with ravioli, but they were too delicate. Another great use for this flavour-packed sauce is to skip the pasta all together. Just spread it on a crusty piece of buttered toast and top it all off with a fried egg. A delicious breakfast.
Eat Your Greens Pasta
- 1 bunch of greens (silverbeet, rainbow chard or kale), finely chopped (stems removed for kale)
- Olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 long red chilli, seeds removed and finely chopped
- 3-6 anchovy fillets in oil, drained (depending on your anchovy love)*
- 500g orechiette
- Finely grated parmesan to serve
Stick a big pot of water on the stove and bring to the boil while you get the sauce started.
Place a good glug of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic, chilli and anchovies and cook, stirring, until the anchovies have melted and it all smells amazing, about 1 minute. Add the greens and a tablespoon of oil, tossing to combine.
Cook your pasta according to the packet’s instructions. Just before it’s done, reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water and add to the pan with your greens. Drain the pasta then add it all to the pan. Turn the heat up to medium and give everything a really good stir to combine, making sure the greens are evenly distributed through the pasta.
Add a drizzle of oil, season and serve topped with finely grated parmesan.
Adapted from David Prior’s “Orecchiette with Cavolo Nero” recipe in Delicious Magazine, May 2012