This is probably one of the dishes I cook most often. I first got the recipe from the BBC Food Messageboards, apparently a Venetian dish and it frankly sounded a little bizarre. Onions, anchovies, parsley and pasta? That's it? I was dubious. After I made it though, I was completely converted.
So, when I was gifted this jar of anchovies my friend brought back from Spain, I knew this dish was destined to be in my belly in the near future. The plump anchovies were a world away from the brown paper thin ones you get in tins, and made this dish as tasty as ever. The onions, cooked ever-so-slowly over 40 or so minutes, turn into a sweet mush, while the anchovies melt into it, emulsifying it into a perfectly balanced sauce with the freshness of the parsley flecks completing it. The anchovies lend a deep umami flavour without an overly fishy flavour. I thoroughly recommend you try it, but don't try and fancify it; red onions definitely do not work, and don't be tempted to add any Parmesan to it. Spaghetti works well with this, but even better as I discovered this time, is bucatini. It has a spaghetti shape but is slightly thicker with a hole and it holds the sauce well.
Onion & Anchovy Pasta
3 large white onions
8 anchovies (the ones in oil, not fresh)
A large handful of fresh parsley
200gr pasta - spaghetti or bucatini
A little milk
Salt & pepper
Soak the anchovy fillets in a little milk. Slice the onions into a half moon shape thinly and chop the parsley finely. In a pan, fry the onions in some oil in a pan on the lowest heat you have, with the lid on. Stir occasionally, and if they start to stick add a splash of water. 30 minutes later, put the pasta on to cook. Add the anchovies to the onions with the milk. Stir the sauce until the anchovies disintegrate. This will probably look a bit grim, but it will emulsify into a sauce. Add a dash of milk if it gets dry. Drain the pasta, reserving 4 tbsp of the cooking water. Add the pasta to the sauce and toss to coat, adding the water if it needs it. Scatter in the parsley, grind over plenty of fresh pepper and add salt to taste.