With Tuscany fresh in my mind, I knew the moment I woke up this morning what I was going to make for lunch today. One of my favorite restaurants in Montalcino is a rustic place called Grappolo Blu. Their simple Tuscan fare never disappoints and the owner, Luciano, never fails to recommend just the right wine to pair with your meal. Whenever I visit, the antipasti of choice for me is their plate of marinated anchovies drizzled with parsley pesto and served with a simple pile of chickpeas. I wanted to recreate this simple dish at home and when my friend in Montalcino, Isabella, mentioned that she had their recipe for our upcoming cookbook project, lunch was born.
Marinating the anchovies in white wine and vinegar for a bit mellows the salty flavor and leaves them tasting sublime. Layering the anchovies with the parsley pesto makes them even tastier and is ideal as a midday snack on crusty bread or served alongside a simple salad of chickpeas and tomatoes as I have done here. Although the anchovies at Grappolo Blu are much larger and packed in salt, our smaller US version found in tins worked just as well for me. Be sure to break out your best quality extra virgin olive oil for this one.
Grazie, Grappolo Blu!
Anchovies Marinated in Parsley Pesto and Chickpeas
For the anchovies:
2 (2-ounce) tins anchovies
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 large bunch of parsley
2 cloves garlic, diced
Pinch red pepper flakes
1/2 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
For the chickpeas:
1 (15.5-ounce) can chickpeas
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, diced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Prepare the anchovies: Remove the anchovies from the oil and separate into individual filets. Lay the filets in a shallow bowl or dish and cover with the wine and vinegar. Allow to marinate for about an hour.
Either by hand or with a mezza-luna, chop the parsley and garlic until finely chopped. Add in the red pepper flakes. Stir in the olive oil until incorporated. Remove the anchovies from the marinade and place in a dish large enough to hold all of them in a single layer. Pour over the parsley pesto and allow to marinate for a few hours.
Prepare the chickpeas: Drain and rinse the chickpeas. In a small saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat until hot. Add in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the chickepeas and saute for just a few minutes. Turn off the heat and stir the chickpeas in the oil to be sure to coat all the chickpeas with the garlic oil. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
To serve, see photo above! Plate the anchovies individually on the plate. Add a pile of chickpeas and freshly sliced tomatoes. Drizzle with some of the parsley oil and serve. Buon appetito!