This was inspired after seeing Melissa Clark of the New York Times caramelize garlic. I love garlic so much, so this finally quenched my desire for a quick pasta dish. It was exactly what I wanted. It is also a twist on the Bagna Cauda dressing, again by the excellent Melissa Clarke. The mellowing anchovies in oil are so versatile and now with caramelized garlic, how can you go wrong?
[I don’t have many photos to go around because this was happening very quickly and it was being created as I went. Others would redo this and reshoot it, but I am seriously in a very mobile moment right now, that I don’t have the luxury to redo things. I hope in the near future I stabilize a bit and I get to do what I like and you get to have decent things by me. For now, I would kindly ask you to bear with me. ]
As I finished this, I realized that it would be lovely with some roasted cherry tomatoes. I didn’t have cherry tomatoes and I didn’t also have time to wait for the regular tomatoes to roast. So I had them as a side salad. You can choose to do either.
This here is for 2 people, but I am leaving it to you to measure how much pasta you’d like and increase or decrease the olive oil and other ingredients to your tastes. You would want the pasta to be nicely coated and not dry. Therefore, bear in mind that if you have what you might think too much olive oil, it would be enough in the end because you will need to toss everything together.
The excess oil you will have in the end after caramelizing the garlic is absolutely excellent. I tossed the salad afterwards with it and it gives this wonderful mellow garlic taste without the raw garlic harshness… also, better for digestion 🙂
pasta of your choice
250 gr green asparagus, bottoms chopped, cut in 3 cm long little matches
3 garlic cloves, cleaned and smashed with a knife
olive oil, enough to coat the bottom of the pan with a little less than 1 cm of oil
3-4 anchovies, packed in oil (I’ll use more next time, but I leave this to your taste buds)
1 tsp capers, chopped
pinch of pepper
pinch of paprika
1/2 tsp sambal oelek (or replace the paprika & sambal oelek with hot red pepper flakes)
fresh/frozen chopped parsley
salt (only if you find it not salty enough, the anchovies are salty)
1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water till al dente. Drain out the pasta with a large slotted spoon, but keep the water.
2. When the pasta is done, toss in the asparagus stalks (not the tips) in the hot water and cook until just having a bite. Throw in the tips and cook for 30 seconds more. Drain.
3. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan. When it’s hot, lower it on below medium and throw in the crushed garlic. Cook on this low heat until it is nicely crisped and browned on the outside edges. Do not burn the garlic. If it starts to burn, lower the heat and remove those pieces.
4. When done, strain out the garlic cloves and reserve, pour out in a jar any excess oil and keep as much as you would need to coat the pasta and asparagus in the end.
5. Fry the anchovies, stirring occasionally, until they fall apart. They will spatter so much so that you would want to stay very far away. You know what, I know this is not advisable, but you’ll be standing so far as to want to leave the kitchen for a few minutes! haha
6. When nearly done, add the capers, paprika, pepper and sambal oelek and stir. Switch off heat.
7. Throw in the drained pasta and asparagus and toss in the frying pan.
8. Stir in the parsley, serve and top with caramelized garlic.
The nice accompaniment here would be the roasted cherry tomatoes, as I mentioned. Also, the cheese of choice would naturally be Parmesan, but I didn’t have that. Later on I did grate a bit of semi-aged Mimolette, and as nice as it was, Parmesan would have been preferred. Oh, and as much as the FDA would want you to think otherwise, no, Mimolette doesn’t kill.