I discovered this dish during a trip down the Amalfi coast in Italy at a restaurant situated on a rocky beach in a small fishing village. In worse than broken Italian I asked for whatever the chef considers his specialty dish. In front of my eyes a fresh fish was carried from a boat into the restaurant and that same fish was on my table a little while later, with this pasta on the side. Feeds 4 as light main meal, 6 as side dish.
- 500 g linguini or spaghetti
- 2 tots olive oil
- 10 anchovy fillets
- 4 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
- ½ cup pecan nuts (in Italy they used walnuts, but pecan nuts are widely available in SA and close enough in taste)
- 3 tots cream
- 2 tots chopped parsley
- salt and pepper
- Pound the nuts using a pestle and mortar. Alternatively use a rolling pin or wine bottle to crush them finely on a chopping board.
- Use a cast-iron pot to cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet.
- This involves boiling water in a pot, adding salt to that water, and cooking the pasta for roughly 8 minutes in the boiling water (but check the packaging as cooking times differ). If you are at the sea, use fresh seawater that already contains salt for this step. But not seawater with sand.
- When the pasta is 90% done (just before al dente), remove from the pot, drain and set aside. Important: Save some of the water that you boiled the pasta in somewhere, as
you will need this later.
- Add olive oil to the now empty pot and fry the anchovies, garlic and nuts. Stir continuously and use a wooden spoon to press and mash the anchovies until they disintegrate and melt into the oil. This could happen as quickly as in 1 minute so keep a constant eye on the pot and don’t try to multitask otherwise it will burn.
- Add the pasta to the anchovy-and-nut mixture in the pot and stir through. Add the cream and about half a cup of the water that you boiled the pasta in, just enough to create a bit of sauce and to keep the pasta from burning. Let that liquid boil and use a spoon or fork to toss the pasta around a bit. If your pot runs dry, add more water. The amount of water you need to add will depend on the heat and the size and shape of your pot and might differ from one time to the next.
- As soon as the pasta is heated through again and the sauce thickened to your liking, stir in the parsley. The dish is now ready. Steps 5 and 6 combined should take minutes you can count on one hand.
- Once it is served up, top the pasta with shavings of pecorino or Parmesan cheese. As the anchovies already added salt to the dish, let each guest add their own salt and pepper to taste.
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