A northern Jersey friend enjoyed this yellow onion and anchovy whole wheat pasta dish several years ago at da Flora, one of my favorite North Beach restaurants. The food memory haunted her ever since.
She hasn’t been to San Francisco since that dinner at da Flora so I made my version of the dish when 10 of us gathered at the table back East last week.
Two of my Jersey friends picked 3 of us up in Manhattan and we headed to Arthur Avenue, NYC’s Little Italy in the Bronx to finalize our menu and buy what we needed for our 4-course meal from our favorite purveyors.
Then it was off to Clifton NJ for a day of cooking and eating together. 8 hours of conversation, laughter and fun fueled by fantastic food and wine.
The chance to be with family and friends around the table is what drives my cooking passion and warms my heart.
This is a simple recipe with few ingredients. Start making the sauce when you put on a large pot of salted water over high-heat to boil and the sauce will be done by the time the pasta is cooked.
The nutty toothsome whole wheat pasta is coated with the onion-anchovy sauce. The sweet onions play off the salty anchovies and the sweet acidic sherry vinegar adds a piquant finish to each bite. Savor a full-flavored pasta made from a few simple ingredients.
Flora is somewhat of a technophobe. I’m so happy that she finally decided to create a da Flora website. Take a look at this unique place. Meet the 3 remarkable women who prepare your meal with local seasonal ingredients, the best imported products and lots of love.
Book a table for your next dinner in North Beach. God bless Flora. She’ll only go so far on the web. You’ll have to call to make a reservation. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.
- 1 pound or 500 grams, imported Italian whole wheat spaghetti or other long pasta
- 2 yellow onions, halved and then slivered
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup sherry vinegar
- 10 anchovy filets, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, slivered
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 cups pasta cooking water
- 3 tablespoons chopped Italian flat parsley
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- drizzle of good finishing extra virgin olive oil
- Put on 4 quarts of water with 3 tablespoons of sea salt over high heat to boil.
- When the water is at a rapid boil add the pasta and stir so the spaghetti strands don't stick together. Cook until very al dente.
- In the meantime, place a sauté pan large enough to hold the cooked spaghetti over medium-high heat and add the extra virgin olive oil.
- When the oil ripples add the thinly sliced onions, sprinkle the onions with sea salt and cook until translucent and slightly browned.
- Add the sherry vinegar and cook until the sauce is slightly reduced.
- Remove the onions and sauce to a bowl and set aside.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low and melt the butter in the pan.
- Add the anchovies and thinly sliced garlic to the pan and cook until the anchovies dissolve and the thinly sliced garlic starts to give off its aroma, about a minute or 2.
- Return the carmelized onions and sauce to the pan.
- Increase the heat to medium-high, add the pasta water and rapidly simmer until the sauce reduces by about half.
- When the pasta is cooked to al dente, using tongs or a spider, add the pasta to the pan. (If you drain the pasta in a colander reserve a cup of the cooking water.)
- Add the chopped parsley, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
- Toss the spaghetti in the sauce. The pasta will absorb some of the sauce as it finishes cooking. (If the spaghetti is too dry add a bit more pasta water and toss again.)
- Serve the pasta in warm bowls and lightly drizzle each bowl with a good finishing olive oil.