Cooking in Italy: spaghetti mediterraneo-fresh anchovies, cherry tomatoes and arugula

My last day in Positano, dinner at the famed Buca di Bacco awaits tonight, but until then my heart is set on that boat and its charming young captain who will valiantly take me to Arienzo, the beach where for the last week I've been basking in the sun, swimming and enjoying house specialty after house specialty made with perfect homegrown vegetables and locally caught fish.

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I sprint on those last few meters, lest it take off without me. My right sandal slides from under me dragging my left leg behind it. Next I know I'm on board, feigning more faintness than I fairly should, while the charming young captain (his name is Adriano, I learn) tends to the abrasions running from my left foot all the way up my left knee.

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At the other end of the ride, the charmer's employer, Peppe, awaits with medication and an invite to enjoy the best yet house specialty, spaghetti mediterraneo, made with fresh anchovies, cherry tomatoes and arugula. Because of my injuries, Peppe receives special dispensation from his wife, the genius at the stove, to share the recipe for me to share in turn.

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And though my favorite sandals are no longer shell-studded and my leg is badly bruised, I learnt today that even slipping and falling can be a good thing in the right place. Oh, and, ladies, I also just found out Adriano is single.

Spaghetti Mediterraneo Spaghetti with fresh anchovies, cherry tomatoes and arugula

for 6 people 1 pound fresh anchovies 1 cup cherry tomatoes 1 to 2 garlic cloves olive oil salt and pepper to taste 1 pound spaghetti 3 generous handfuls wild baby arugula

Clean the anchovies: remove the heads, open in half, remove guts and spine. Quarter the tomatoes. Smash and peel the garlic cloves.

Heat the olive oil with the garlic cloves and as soon as you start smelling the garlic, throw in the tomatoes. Sprinkle to taste with salt and pepper and let the tomatoes cook until they are slightly soft.

Add the anchovies fillets and sauté over lively heat until they change color to whitish silver and are still soft, approximately 3 to 4 minutes.

Lower the spaghetti in boiling water and cook until very al dente, about 4 to 5 minutes less than the time advised on the packaging. Transfer to the pan with the tomatoes and anchovies and, over high heat, add some of the pasta water. Cook until you have received desired toothsomeness, the spaghetti should be quite al dente still.

Finish with olive oil and pour on a platter over which you will have scattered the arugula. Serve immediately.

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