Here, fishy fishy.
Bucatini Puttanesca
Credit: Jennifer Causey; Styling: Lindsey Lower

Working up the courage to incorporate anchovies into your day-to-day cooking is a lot easier said than done. It sounds fancy and sophisticated in theory, but who remembers to grab a tin of anchovies while they’re strolling the aisles of the grocery store, and even if you do make a point to procure the lil’ fishies, how the heck do you actually use them in casual weeknight cooking? It all seems very...intimidating.

Many people are convinced that they don’t like anchovies, and I truly believe that they’re just confused—if you like rich, salty, almost briny flavor in literally any dish, then you like anchovies. This is not a discussion about your thoughts on fish and cured proteins. Okay? End of story. Step outside of that anchovy-free comfort zone and commit to purchasing these oil-packed suckers. They’re about to make your next dinner irresistibly salty (no fishiness here!) and packed with unexpected, umami-filled richness. Here’s how.

Saucy Pastas

It’s no secret that anchovies are a cornerstone to a classic puttanesca, but these cured fish fillets can provide an extra layer of briny flavor to any saucy pasta dish. Gently cook the chopped anchovies in oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, and a couple sprigs of oregano or thyme (if you have), and wait about 30 seconds for your kitchen to be engulfed by the most comforting, enticing smell you’ve ever experienced. It’s nothing short of incredible. Toss in some vegetables (lacinato kale would be great here), and then mix in your noodles, loosening up the whole situation with a little reserved pasta cooking liquid as needed. Hit it with a sprinkle of Parm if you like. Boom—now that’s a low-key way to let anchovies bring your next meal to life.

Salad Dressings

Yes, a classic Caesar dressing is obviously all about the anchovies, but this unexpected ingredient works great in a wide variety of other oil-based vinaigrettes, as well. Because the salty flavor is so intense, make sure to incorporate enough fat to balance it. Anything from extra-virgin olive oil, to egg yolks, or even prepared mayonnaise will help to mellow out the briny punch of the anchovies, while providing a rich, creamy backbone for the dressing.

Party Dips

You know what every entertaining dip or spread could use a little bit more of? An unexpected layer of savory umph, that’s what. Next time you’re hosting, mix minced anchovies into an olive tapenade, hummus, or goat cheese spread. Heck, you should really just go ahead and make bagna cauda—a warm anchovy-garlic dip—that is literally perfect on any and every savory application. Trust me.

A Slice of ‘Za

They're great in pasta, so you know they're good on pizza, too. Whether you’re laying them down by the whole fillet or you’re chopping ‘em up and dispersing them throughout the red sauce, a heavy hand of ‘chovies are sure to brighten up your next pizza night. Bonus points if you’re adding sausage or pepperoni to your pie. That’s a pro move, right there.

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Eat Them Straight Up

Yes, you can do that, and it’s not gross! It might seem off putting at first thought, but don’t be afraid. Pile them onto a piece of generously buttered toast and go to town. Lay them across a cracker, perhaps with a slice of cheese or cured meat, and prepare for the most beautifully salty, crunchy appetizer situation. You can shimmy them into your next sando (tomato, mozzarella, and basil sandwich, anyone?) or lay a couple across your next batch of scrambled eggs. Whichever direction you take, just know you’re a bad a**, anchovy-eating master, and you’re way better off because of it.

By Sara Tane and Sara Tane