Stay with me on this one. We're going to make an open-faced anchovy sandwich. And you're going to love it.
Admittedly, that's a tall order for a sandwich that sports an ingredient many people tend to be skittish about. But you simply have to try this.
My inspiration came from eating many (and as far as I'm concerned, there never will be too many) amazing dinners at Seamus Mullen's New York City restaurant, Tertulia. There is a reason I keep going back. He produces food designed to slap you across the face with flavour. And I like getting roughed up like that by my food.
One dish in particular I order every visit — tosta matrimonio, a simple starter of crisp bread topped with sheep's milk cheese, anchovies and balsamic vinegar. It is punchy and full of flavour and not even a little bit fishy.
To enjoy this a bit more frequently (I am in New York only once a month or so), I decided to create my own version of this dish — an open-faced sandwich topped with ricotta, balsamic-drenched arugula and anchovies. The result is rich, tangy and powerfully flavourful. It also happens to be simple to assemble, making it a weeknight dinner dream.
But one caveat — my dish was inspired by Mullen's, an attempt to capture the spirit of his dish. I did not try to recreate it. To taste the real deal, it's well worth a visit to his eatery.
OPEN-FACED ANCHOVY SANDWICH WITH BALSAMIC ARUGULA
For a healthier take on this delicious sandwich, consider using part-skim ricotta and opt for a lighter, whole-grain bread.
Start to finish: 15 minutes
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 cups arugula
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 large slicing tomatoes
12 oil-packed anchovies
Heat the oven to broil. Set a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Coat the rack with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil and vinegar. Add the arugula, then use your hands to toss well, ensuring all of the arugula is coated with the dressing. Season with salt and pepper, then set aside.
In a small bowl mix the ricotta, thyme and lemon juice. Set aside.
Slice each tomato into 6 thin slices. Arrange the slices on the prepared wire rack, then season them with salt and pepper. Set them on the oven's centre rack and broil until lightly browned, about 4 to 6 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut the baguette into two 6-inch lengths, then slice each one in half lengthwise. Place in the oven, cut side up, and toast for just a minute or two, just long enough to warm and lightly brown.
When the bread and tomatoes are done, top each piece of baguette with a quarter of the ricotta, then arrange 3 tomato slices over each. Top each with a quarter of the arugula, then 3 anchovies. Eat immediately.
Nutrition information per serving: 930 calories; 260 calories from fat (28 per cent of total calories); 29 g fat (13 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 85 mg cholesterol; 123 g carbohydrate; 7 g fiber; 12 g sugar; 46 g protein; 2,490 mg sodium.
J.M. Hirsch is the food editor for The Associated Press. He blogs at http://www.LunchBoxBlues.com and tweets at http://twitter.com/JM_Hirsch