On the final day of Slow Fish, a panel of judges convened at a waterfront bar at the Porto Antico in Genoa to judge the finalists of the Small Bite, Big Taste recipe competition which called on its network to send in their best anchovy-based recipes and bring back this little fish to our plates, threatened by overfishing in some parts of the world where it is fished as animal feed.
The eclectic and geographically diverse panel comprised Patricia Majluf from Peru; Harald Sakarias Hansen, an activist from Norway; Virginia Paracino, a student from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy; Miguel Vargas, a fisherman and indigenous rights activist from Chile; and Tiberio Scozzafava-Jaeger, an environmental researcher with the University of Berlin. They sampled five dishes, presented by the Slow Food Youth Network, including spinach pasta with tomatoes, anchovies and pine nuts; anchovies with tomato on a chickpea flatbread called cecina; crêpes filled with mushrooms and anchovies and fried onions with sage and anchovies, but declared the winner anchovies with Genoese basil on bread, submitted by Leonardo Mastragostino, the leader of the Mugello and Levante Fiorentino Convivium in Tuscany. “Simple and fantastic,” declared the judges, saying that the combination of the fresh pesto and salty anchovies could not be improved on.
Anchovies with Genoese Pesto
Makes 10 “small bites”
2 garlic cloves
50-60 g basil leaves, not washed but cleaned with a cloth
coarse sea salt
1 tbsp pine nuts
2 tbsps grated pecorino cheese
5-6 tbsps grated Parmesan cheese
100 ml extra-virgin olive oil
20 anchovy fillets, in oil or salted (if salted, wash under running water)
10 small slices of wholemeal bread
Using a marble mortar and a wooden pestle, grind first the garlic, then the basil, a few grains of salt and the pine nuts. Gradually add the cheeses and olive oil.
Just before serving, arrange 2 anchovy fillets on each slice of bread and cover with pesto.