Little Fish, Big Meal
One of my favorite seasonal dishes of the early winter months is “gianchetti” in Ligurian dialect, known Italy-wide as “bianchetti” and in english, known as “white bait”. Bianchetti are newly born “pesce azzuro” (anchovies and sardines). They are fished only in the months of January and February, as not to endanger the fish population.
Another dish for 2-4 people (depending on how much pasta you like!):
2-3 small artichokes (cut in quarters with fuzzy middle and hard outside leaves removed)
1/3 cup of olive oil
1 clove of garlic
200 grams of bianchetti
1/2 cup white wine
A small fistful of Italian parsley
peperoncino for a spicy taste
400 grams of pasta (preferably spaghetti)
Boil water in pasta pan (don’t forget a little salt!).
When cutting the artichokes, place them as you go in a bowl of cold water with a few squeezed lemon quarters. Keep them there until you are ready to cook them.
Mince the garlic and Italian parsley together.
In a saute pan, add the olive oil and the garlic/parsley mixture let sizzle over medium heat (about 2 minutes). Add the artichokes and let cook for about 3 minutes uncovered. Add the white wine, lower the heat and cover for about 3 more minutes.
This is a good point to add your pasta to the boiling water and cook for the time indicated on your pasta of choice.
Add the bianchetti. Mix constantly in the pan for about 2 minutes, then let sit for a minute, then stir again for a minute. If pasta is not quite ready, remove form the flame and cover.
Once the pasta is ready, add it and the bianchetti mixture to a large bowl. Add a little more olive oil and a squeeze or two of lemon. Mix it all together and serve immediately.