In "Conversations with Dead People", a 7th season episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", Buffy's sister Dawn declared her anchovy love to her pizza, just prior to the appearance of the First (Evil) in the guise of her (dead) mother, and the subsequent near total destruction of her home by demonic forces.* In a dvd commentary, writer Jane Espenson revealed that she included Dawn's poem in protest, because a certain pizza chain had recently removed the anchovy topping choice from its delivery menu.
No question that anchovies are the subject of some Very Strong Feelings, all around. Even prior to becoming a vegetarian, my daughter despised them so thoroughly that she could not bear it if her father and I ordered anchovies on our portion of the family take out pizza. The very whiff of the nearby anchovies poisoned her portion and her entire evening, and she absolutely could tell , even when we thought we had concealed each and every tiny fish. I live way the other side of the Great Anchovy Divide, and enjoy anchovies presented frankly, on a pizza, or elsewhere-including that one-time rage, "Jansson's Temptation."
A Scandanavian dish, popular in the sixties, when Danish Modern was the hottest of design trends, Jansson's Tempatation was a bit of fad too. It was made with sliced potatoes, which were baked slowly, melding with plenty of anchovies and cream- actually delicious, and much more subtle than you would think, though the anchovy presence was not a secret. A friend of my parents made it for dinner parties, and I was always hoping the children would be invited.
Since that time, I have learned a technique for cooking vegetables with an anchovy or two, where the presence of the anchovies, as such, is pretty well undetectable. You have probably come across this business before. It works brillantly with lots of vegetables, and is particularly yummy with green beans and cherry tomatoes, cooked together. You heat a bit of olive oil and some garlic, and mash in a couple of anchovies. When the anchovies are melted, you gently cook the veggies (parboiled for the green beans, but not for the tomatoes) in the oil until they are done as you like. I have served this to professed anchovy-haters, and they mostly scarf it up. (Naturally, I cannot serve it to vegetarian anchovy haters, because, as I have been informed on any number of occasions by close relatives, "A fish is not a vegetable.") If you are anti-anchovy, but given to challenging yourself-give this a try.
Less subtle, but still not overwhelming, is the pasta recipe below. I love this stuff. It is a typically simple, yet punchy Jamie Oliver recipe, though I rather think it is a traditional dish, as opposed to an invention..To make it you need only have ordinary pantry staples on hand, or, at least, my kind of on-hand cupboard stuff. You need:
Panagretto (see below)
1 1/4 lbs dried spaghetti
a small red chili (dried) pounded (or aleppo pepper flakes or the like are okay, too)
clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
salt and pepper
6 Tbsps olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled
small handful fresh thyme leaves-stems removed-or tsp of dried thyme
4 oz bread crumbs, fine
half a lemon
Put a big pasta pan of water on to boil. In a heavy pan, add most of the olive oil and the garlic, and heat,then add thyme and bread crumbs. As they begin to fry and toast, stir them. Keep on until they are crisply toasted, then scoop them out onto some wadded paper towels. Spread them out, remove the garlic, blot off the excess oil, and salt and pepper them.
When the pasta water is boiling, salt it, and add the spaghetti. Heat the oil and chopped garlic in the same pan you used for the breadcrumbs.Lay the anchovies over the garlic, and mash them with the back of a wooden spoon. When they are melty, add the red pepper and squeeze in the lemon juice. (Watch out, the lemon juice will sputter, jump back.) When the spaghetti is done, drain it and pour the pasta into the anchovy pan. Turn it over and over with some tongs , coating all the spaghetti thoroughly. Serve right away, in wide bowls, sprinkling each serving with plently of the toasty breadcrumbs. this much serves four for supper, with a salad.
Don't put grated parm on it- it would fight with the anchovies, and ruin your fun.
*In the same episode, Dawn tried an interesting culinary experiment, involving microwaving a marshmallow, which puffed up dramatically (see screen capture). Later, the microwave exploded-but it wasn't because of the marshmallow.The marshmallow thing does work, BTW. Don't ask. The geekiness is in honor of the recent 10th anniversary of Btvs, soon to be seen in a different sort of Season 8, coming to a comics shop near you.