Spaghetti : Roasted Cherry Tomatoes : Anchovies : Lemony Panko

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Ah! finally back! I’ve been a bit out of it lately, possibly because it has been extremely hot around here (specially in a poorly ventilated kitchen like mine).Today, the weather here in Los Angeles has been a bit more forgiving, believe it or not, we even had a bit of rain. But don’t get me wrong I love sunny southern California, tomatoes are at peak season,  farmers markets are insane, full of colorful fresh produce, traffic increases to unthinkable levels, kids everywhere… yep, it is summer time.

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Today I needed my anchovy fix (which actually happens quite often but goes “unblogged” most times). I know it isn’t a popular ingredient for some, but like fish sauce or malt vinegar, this ingredient is all about personality. One strong personality that can be enjoyed in proper smaller doses and will deliver satisfaction even to those who swear by their hatred of it, believe me! Paired with some garlic, parsley, extra virgin olive oil and a rich egg yolks, this seemingly little dish delivers a succulent and elegant flavor dose (overdose really in the best of ways). The anchovy taste is nicely dialed in by the citrusy panko which adds an exceptional textural contrast. I would call it pangrattato but I don’t want to be slapped on the wrist by the true italian cuisine connoisseurs, so let’s keep it light, shall we?. This lemon panko, is browned on a pan with olive oil until golden and ready. Ok, let’s get into it right now!: 

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Ingredients (serves 2):

3-5 anchovy fillets
100g panko bread crumbs
1 large garlic clove thinly sliced
5-8 cherry tomatoes sliced in half
some flat leaf parsley thinly chopped
2 egg yolks
juice of a lemon (use to taste)
250g spaghetti
olive oil as needed
salt and pepper to taste

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This is one recipe that can be ready in less than 20 minutes. Start by boiling some water, and add salt to it, enough so that is salty like the ocean. About 2-3 percent solution. Once the water is boiling, add the pasta. A couple of tips, add enough water so that the pasta can roil in it. Right after you add the pasta, stir it with a wooden spoon or spatula, you want to make sure the pasta gets coated by the water evenly. Leaving the pasta alone might cause some strands of pasta to stick together, because they hit the hot water and gelled right away. This is less likely to happen with fresh pasta. This should be ready in about 7 minutes, so keep an eye on it and check for doneness in the last 2-3 minutes. You want your pasta al dente! 

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Prepare your panko crumbs, which is extremely simple. Add them to a pan, add some olive oil, don’t drown them, a little bit of olive oil will be enough. With a wooden spoon, make sure the oil is evenly distributed amongst the panko crumbs. Keep an eye on the pan, even on low heat, these crumbs will want to brown really fast. Once you have achieved a really nice golden finish, give it a nice splash of lemon juice. Keep cooking a little longer, we don’t wan’t soggy crumbs. The lemon juice will reduce and the tangy finish will remain.

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Add the cherry tomatoes to a pan on medium high heat. Roast the tomatoes until you see some browning on them, but don’t over do it. These tomatoes are delicious even without cooking. Add a little salt. You want to get some caramelization on them but only slightly. Then add the garlic and remove the pan from the stove. Let the carry overheat slightly cook the garlic. Be ready to remove the content of the pan into a mixing bowl, you don’t want the garlic to go brown.

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Once you’ve transferred the garlic and tomatoes to a mixing bowl, add the chopped parsley, a little bit of olive oil and the mighty anchovies. This part is fun (unless you used anchovy paste) With a couple of forks or whatever instrument(s) of your choice, shred the anchovies and tomatoes together a bit, do not puree them! Just break them up enough but protect their integrity somewhat, at least this is my preference.

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Add the yolk! and combine with everything else in the mixing bowl. At this point I had propped a double boiler, which consists of a saucepan with boiling water. We will be placing the mixing bowl right over it. My mixing bowl is made out of stainless steel, and fits the saucepan just right.. these aren’t deal breakers, but it helps to have a nice setup. You could always skip this step, just make sure that the pasta is al dente and ready by the time you are ready to cook the yolks. The heat in the pasta itself should be enough to thicken/cook the yolks to get the creamy consistency we want. Remember that yolks thicken at about 142-144F, and pasta out of the boiling water will be at almost 212F, so don’t mix the pasta with eggs until it has rest for a little bit (about 2-3 minutes)

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I cooked the yolks in the double boiler because I had already cooked the pasta ahead of time and because I wanted extra control over the consistency of the final sauce. Whichever way you go, fear is not an option! Just do it! 

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Mix in the pasta and stir until the sauce is fully incorporated with it. Add more parsley if you see fit, taste, adjust salt/pepper/lemon juice and serve immediately. Yolk thickened sauces need to be serve right away, they will become sticky and dry after a few minutes. You want that silky smooth coating on the noodles, so there is no waiting here. Eat right away! am serious! 🙂  Enjoy!!!! Until the next post! 

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