Several of the Italian recipes I’ve included on this site originated with her, directly or indirectly. One of them was my father’s favorite, and through him became one of my favorites, too. It was frequently prepared on Fridays (which, of course, were meatless in those days) and always on Christmas Eve (also meatless). This extraordinary dish is spaghetti with Tuna Fish and Anchovy Sauce.
Now, before you run off in horror at the thought of spaghetti and tuna fish sharing the same plate, please bear with me for a few more paragraphs! Admittedly this dish doesn’t always conjure positive first thoughts, but I know it tastes much better than it sounds, and hopefully I can tempt you to try it or one of its many variations. Over the years, I have served grandma’s tuna and anchovy sauce many times and nobody has ever complained, or more importantly, left food on their plate – including a group of over two dozen non-Italians who were experiencing it for the first time.
As you can see in the recipe, the sauce only has eight ingredients and can be prepared in well under an hour. Sometimes, simple is best. Anchovies are the key ingredient. They provide the briny flavor of the sea that makes the sauce perfect for any fish or seafood. We always used tuna fish because it was economical and readily available, but any fish or seafood can be substituted. Shrimp, mussels, clams, scallops, and calamari would be at the top of my list of alternatives. I’ve even served it with seafood and tuna fish.
I also like the spicy version of this sauce – which I’ve called Spicy Marinara Sauce. It’s essentially the same sauce as grandma’s original, but with onion, basil, wine, and red pepper flakes added. I especially like the spicy sauce with mussels and clams, but it goes equally well with any fish or seafood.
If you like fish and seafood, I know you will enjoy these two special sauce recipes, with or without the tuna fish. You decide what to include. I’m confident if you try it once, you’ll serve it again.