This dish has been a weeknight staple in my house for years. I vary the recipe often, sometimes adding a handful of steamed broccoli florets or substituting butter for the olive oil. I occasionally swap in a semolina pasta for the whole wheat. I never considered making it Meat Lite, though, until I suddenly realized how similar it is to something my husband's grandmother makes every year as part of her Christmas Eve Feast of the Seven Fishes. With the anchovies' big hit of umami and salty depth of flavor, this is the best version of my nutty pasta I've made yet.
- 1 pound whole wheat pasta
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 anchovy fillets, chopped
- 1/3 cup pine nuts, ground in a food processor
- 1/3 cup walnuts, ground in a food processor
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, minced
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, and then add the pasta and cook according to package directions.
While the past cooks, heat the olive oil in a high-sided frying pan large enough to accommodate all the pasta over medium heat. Add the anchovy, nuts, red pepper flakes, and garlic, stirring often and breaking up the anchovies with a wooden spoon. (They will eventually dissolve into the oil.) When the nuts smell toasty, after about 5 minutes, kill the heat and set the pan aside.
Drain the pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking liquid. Return the pan with the nut sauce to medium heat, and add the cooked pasta to the sauce. Toss to combine, adding the reserved cooking liquid until the pasta is moist and coated. Stir in the lemon zest and parsley, toss to combine, and serve at once.