I always imagine what chef’s and other food writers eat when no one is looking, when their fridges are almost empty save for a bit of produce and pantry basics. In my mind, they use these few ingredients to whip up extravagant dishes, the way MacGyver might tunnel his way out of a sticky situation with nothing but a paperclip and coffee spoon.
After interviewing a few chefs for other publications and learning that the meals they have once their aprons come off are less than gourmet, I realize that maybe I’m not alone in my pursuit for simple, but satisfying meals when the rare downtime happens. Eggs typically play a primary role in most of my quick meals, but while I was prepping to make lunch last week and realized the fridge was egg-less, I felt a little panic in the pit of my gut. What does one DO without eggs?! A thought I’m rarely faced with. I peered into the crisper and saw the bundle of broccoli rabe I’d purchased a few days ago and figured that, some greenhouse cherry tomatoes and a few leftover anchovies would have to suffice. What I didn’t realize was that this meal would become one of my favourites to date. The salty, rich anchovy butter, spicy-sweet tomato jam and bitter rabe make for a a mouth explosion I really wasn’t expecting. I’ve made it twice since and it’s still not let me down. This is one for the books and I hope you agree!
Anchovy Butter Toast with Spicy Tomato Jam & Broccoli Rabe
serves 4 as an appetizer or snack
I used a white country loaf because I had it on hand, but Rye bread would be a nice substitution, too!
4 thick slices of crusty country bread
2 tbsp Anchovy Butter, recipe follows
4 tbsp Spicy Tomato Jam, recipe follows
1/2lb garlicky broccoli rabe, recipe follows
Fresh ground pepper
Parmesan cheese, shaved into big pieces (optional)
Preheat oven to 400.
Spread 1/2 tbsp anchovy butter on each slice of bread. Top with tomato jam. Place on a baking sheet and bake until bread is crisp and golden around the edges. Remove from the oven and top with rabe.
Top with fresh ground pepper and Parmesan shreds.
3 anchovy filets (packed in oil), strained
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
In a food processor, add the anchovies and give it a couple whirls so they break down. Add the butter and blend until anchovy is well incorporated into the butter. Keep at room temperature until you’re done with this recipe, and then put it in the fridge for anytime you want a salty, savory bite.
Spicy Tomato Jam
3 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups grape/cherry tomatoes
generous pinch red pepper flakes
salt, to taste
drizzle of honey
Add the olive oil and tomatoes to a heavy pot over med-high heat. Cook until tomatoes start releasing their juice and slumping down into a sauce-like consistency. Add the red pepper flakes, salt and a squeeze of honey and let cook until the sauces reduce and it’s slightly thickened., 10 minutes. Spoon into a sealable jar and set aside for toast. The rest will keep in the fridge for a week or two (and makes a great accompaniment for eggs – surprise, surprise!).
Garlicky Broccoli Rabe
1/2lb broccoli rabe (rapini, broccolini)
1 clove garlic
salt, to taste
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Trim the thick ends of the rabe off and cut into small tree-like piece. Plunge them into the boiling water for 30 seconds, remove and drain.
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, cook for 30 seconds. Add the drained rabe and toss until fragrant and bright.