Not long ago, I read an article in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat by John Ash, the executive chef of the restaurant John Ash & Co. It is one of my favorite restaurants in Santa Rosa. This was an article about comfort food, however, and a departure from the elevated cuisine at the restaurant. The recipe for Spaghetti Alla Rustica is a keeper!! I've made it about once a week for the last two months, so I've adapted it just a tiny bit. Don't be afraid of the anchovies! You will never know there are anchovies in this recipe, and there is absolutely no "fishy" taste. They completely transform in the garlicky olive oil when they break down. My teenagers and husband, who all really love this pasta, were completely amazed when I told them what the secret ingredient was. Make it!
This serves 4 people and takes only 15-20 minutes to make.
PASTA ALLA RUSTICA
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves peeled and finely chopped garlic
8+ anchovy fillets in olive oil (I like to use the whole tin - don't skimp!), chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano, or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried
Sea salt, to taste
Red chile flakes, to taste
Optional: 1-2 tbsp capers or chopped olives (whichever kind you like), drained
1/2 pound dry spaghetti or bucatini
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
3/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese
1. Set oven to 200 (or "warm"). Place a serving bowl for spaghetti in the oven to warm.
2. Begin heating plenty of salted water to a boil for spaghetti.
3. In a small saucepan, heat the olive oil and chopped anchovies and cook over low heat until they break up and mostly dissolve, about 5 minutes. Stir in chopped garlic and allow to gently cook until fragrant and golden, about 2 minutes. Stir in oregano, salt to taste and a big pinch of red pepper flakes. If using, add drained capers or chopped olives. Put in the serving bowl in the oven to keep warm.
4 Meanwhile, boil and cook spaghetti until just tender, al dente. RESERVE ABOUT A CUP OF THE PASTA WATER BEFORE DRAINING (I have a tendency to drain the whole pot and forget. These caps are for ME!) Drain the rest of the water and place the spaghetti in the heated serving bowl, tossing with anchovy mixture, parsley, zest and half the grated cheese. Add some of the reserved water (bit by bit) until you have a creamy sauce, stopping before the sauce becomes too thin. Top with the rest of the cheese and serve immediately...preferably with a glass of Sonoma Valley wine.
Stay safe, my friends!
Hi, I'm Bridget Henry, owner of Hacienda Sonoma, along with my husband, Rick. We searched over 5 years for our ideal location in Wine Country, when I stumbled upon a commercial building that was built prior to the tiny residential neighborhood that had grown up around it, smack in the ♥ of Sonoma Valley. Location, location, location! Lots of work later, it's where we wish we could be all the time, but until then, we love sharing it with the nicest people from all over the world. It's a happy place, and I'm convinced it's because of all the good times and memories that are created there. It's been the best 12 years ever; growing and making wine, and sharing our enthusiasm for all things Wine Country. We can't wait to show you how amazing Sonoma Valley is!