Contrary to what this blog suggests, I don’t just eat cake and meat. I really like veg, I really like salad. Aware its better for my body and better for the environment, I‘ve made a conscious decision to eat less meat during the week and to hark back to my childhood meals where my mother fed me a pretty damn healthy, but pretty damn hippie, vegetarian diet.
Tastes change. I used to hate tomatoes with a passion. Some say exposure breeds love and I have a sneaking suspicion that my about turn from detesting aniseed flavours to obsessing over fennel is due to the obscene quantities of Sambuca I’ve imbibed on countless Camden nights.
This pasta is one that surprised me. It started off as a holier than thou attempt at healthier eating on a school night and became one I’ve kept going back to simply because it tastes great. It’s not strictly vegetarian due to the anchovies, but you could leave these out and add some chopped kalamata olives instead.
What you get is an intensely savory kick from the anchovies or olives, with an iron-rich bite from the cabbage. The fennel offers a fresh aniseed note, and the seeds give sudden crunches of licorice. Brown spaghetti was again initially chosen for its health benefits but kept because it holds its texture well and its flavour stands up to the rest of the ingredients.
It’s not unhealthy. It’s nearly vegetarian. In short, give it a go.
Fennel and Anchovy Spaghetti - serves 2
Half a head of a savoy cabbage or small head of spring greens, sliced into 1.5ish cm ribbons. (Spine removed from greens)
2 cloves of garlic crushed
1 sliced red chili
Can of anchovies in olive oil, chopped finely and reserve the oil
Heaped teaspoon of fennel seeds
Half a head of fennel, very finely sliced
50 ml white wine
extra virgin olive oil
salt and black pepper
Enough dried brown spaghetti for 2 people
1) Set a large pan of boiling salted water for the pasta and add spaghetti
2) After about 5 minutes put another large deep frying pan or wok on medium to high heat and add a glug of olive oil then the garlic, anchovies with their oil, fennel seeds and sliced chili. Stir for about minute till the garlic is about to turn golden then add the cabbage and fennel. Stir to coat with oil and add the white wine.
3) Stir occasionally until the cabbage is cooked through but has a slight bite. It should take about 5 minutes or so. If it looks a little dry add a splash of water to help the steam it along its way.
4) The pasta should be about cooked by now, drain and add to the other pan stirring well and add a splash of the pasta cooking water if it looks like it needs more liquid.
5) It will need pepper, but taste to check the salt as the anchovies are pretty salty already. Give it a squeeze of lemon and an extra glug of oil. Parmesan is nice as well.