I came across this recipe which originates from Puglia, in the early 90’s, in a copy of Elle Decoration – a magazine I adored. The issue is long gone but I have never forgotten how wonderful this sauce tasted. I can remember feeling genuinely surprised that something so simple and uncooked could have such depth of flavour. Well, that will be the anchovies – when blended like this, there is no fishy odour or taste – just a deep, satisfying undertone to a bright and summery sauce.
Now, I haven’t tried this but I am pretty sure that you can substitute tamari sauce for the anchovies – this would make it vegan/vegetarian and keep it wheat free too. Tamari and Soya sauces are both made with fermented soybeans but soy sauce includes wheat and is saltier.
The recipe does require a lot of herbs but these can be bought so easily nowadays – in the supermarkets, in the green grocers and in the ethnic food shops too and they add so much flavour and colour to other dishes that you won’t regret it. Trim the stalks and keep them in a vase/tumbler of water and they will last quite a while.
As daffodils and cherry blossom are coming into bloom, this bright, zingy sauce seems just the thing to herald the much anticipated Spring season. This Walnut, Herb and Anchovy Sauce would also be delicious slathered on fish or lamb.
Walnut, Herb and Anchovy Pasta Sauce
- 1 cup of toasted walnuts
- 6 anchovies preserved in oil (or substitute Tamari sauce starting with 1 Tbsp and adjusting the flavour to your palate)
- 100 g flat leaf parsley including the stems
- 40 g basil leaves
- 40 g mint leaves
- 20 g tarragon leaves
- 1 large clove of garlic
- 1 shallot
- ¼ c olive oil
- ¼ c water
- lemon juice
- Whiz the toasted nuts in food processor until coarsely chopped.
- Add the anchovies, herbs, garlic, shallot, water and pulse until it becomes a coarse puree.
- Then add the olive oil and whiz until combined.
- Stir in 1 Tbsp of lemon juice.
- Taste and adjust the flavour, stirring in additional lemon juice, salt and pepper to make the sauce sing.
- Toss into hot pasta, thinning with a little of the pasta water and finishing with a drizzle of good EVOO.
- Slash a whole fish and slather in the cavity and in the slashes; roast in the oven or cook on the barbecue.
- Top fish fillets or steaks with a spoonful of sauce and a dribble of wine; bake in parchment (thanks Tish!)
- Serve on the side with roast lamb or fish steaks.
- Spread baguette slices with a creamy goats cheese and top with a slice of roasted red pepper and little of the sauce; finish a drizzle of EVOO.