Trofie with Anchovies & Arugula

Excerpt from Ari’s Top 5 enews

Easy spring pasta dish to make for an evening meal

When arugula starts coming in for the spring season here in southeast Michigan I try to eat as much as possible! This pasta dish is an easy and excellent way to make that happen. I used trofie pasta to make it because we buy it through long-time friend, Rolando Beramendi who will be coming to town in the middle of next month to do a highly recommended series of culinary events at the Deli.
The trofie come from the Peduzzi family and their fantastic artisan pasta-making firm, Rustichella d’Abruzzo, which we have access to thanks to Manicaretti, the import company that Rolando started 35 years or so ago! A lot of people just call it, “the one in the brown bag.” The family business dates back to 1924, when the grandfather of the current owner, Gianluigi Peduzzi, started selling his pasta in the Abruzzese town of Penne. What makes their pasta so great? Great grain. Slow mixing. Bronze die extrusion. Slow gentle drying. As I say in the pamphlet, “You really can taste the difference!”
Trofie (pronounced TRO-FEE-YEH) are small twists of pasta, a bit like a two-inch piece of twine, folded in half, then gently (but never tightly) twisted. They’re the typical pasta of the Italian Riviera, so when summer basil starts coming, they’re a perfect pairing with pesto! Since it’s only spring, I did them up the other evening at home with arugula and anchovies! It turned out to be so terrifically tasty that I decided to write it up here!
To prepare the pasta, bring a big pot of fresh water to a boil. Salt well so that the water tastes like the sea. When it’s boiling rapidly, add about a quarter pound of trofie per person. Stir well. While the pasta is cooking, put a bit of extra virgin olive oil in a skillet. Take about a quarter pound of fresh arugula per person and coarsely chop it. Because the arugula cooks down so quickly, it will look like a LOT in its raw form, but remember that after it’s cooked you’ll be left with only a fraction of its original volume. When the pasta is almost done, begin to heat the oil gently. If you like garlic, add a clove (or more if you want) of peeled and slivered garlic to the oil and stir for a minute or so. You don’t want it to brown, just gently cook it to release its flavors. Add a few fennel seeds (I love the ones we’re getting from Daphnis and Chloe in Greece). Add the arugula and stir gently. When it softens—which shouldn’t take more than a minute or two—add a tin of high-quality anchovies. The ones I featured from Fishwife a few weeks ago would work wonderfully well. Stir so the anchovies get soft. Take a bit of the pasta cooking water out of the pot and set aside. If the trofie aren’t yet done, turn off the arugula-anchovy mix so it doesn’t overcook. When the trofie are al dente, drain them and add to the pot and stir well to mix with the arugula and anchovies. Cook for a couple minutes so the flavors come together. Add a small bit of the pasta cooking water to thin the “sauce.” Serve in warm bowls with Parmigiano Reggiano (or if you want sharper flavors, a good Pecorino) grated on top!