Meat-Free anchovy recipes




Simple Scotch Woodcock

The name of this dish illustrates how well anchovies stand in for meat – no woodcock are involved, just eggs and anchovy paste.  It is a classic Edwardian Savoury – a dish that would have been served before (or instead of) dessert.  Today we would be more likely to eat it for breakfast or brunch. Instead of making a spread with butter, anchovies and capers I find Gentleman’s Relish is perfectly adequate. However, I would find it worthwhile to use English Muffins rather than ordinary toast.  Spread the split and toasted muffins with Gentleman’s Relish, top them with scrambled eggs and garnish with two crossed anchovies.


Gentleman’s Relish is also handy for making hors d’oeuvres like Palmiers to serve with drinks.  Simply spread Gentleman’s Relish on one half of rolled, good quality, bought puff pastry.  Fold the un-spread half over and roll again to the original dimensions.  Starting from one of the long edges, roll the pastry up tightly to the centre and then repeat on the other side. Rolling the pastry in its original paper makes this easier.  Wrap the roll in cling film and chill for an hour.

Cut the pastry roll into slices nearly 1 cm thick.  Lay them flat on a lined baking tray.

Cook at 200° C until puffed and golden – about 12 minutes.

Sage and Anchovy Fritters

This recipe comes from Franco Taruschio.

24 large sage leaves (at their best in June)

12 anchovy fillets preserved in oil

1 egg

150g plain flour

2-3 tbsp white wine

1 tbsp olive oil

Oil for deep-frying

Rinse the sage leaves and dry thoroughly.  Lay the anchovy fillets on kitchen paper to remove excess oil.

Make a batter with the remaining ingredients and leave to stand for an hour.

Sandwich each anchovy fillet between two sage leaves and secure with a cocktail stick.  Dip into the batter and fry until golden brown.

Serve hot with aperitifs.

Lettuce and Anchovy

This is so simple it can hardly be called a recipe.  It is a Spanish Tapas – just very fresh crisp lettuce, quartered Little Gems hearts are perfect, each quarter enveloping an anchovy.


This Provençal dish originally had a bread base, like a pizza, and is sometimes claimed to be the for-runner.  It now often has a puff pastry base.  Personally I much prefer the bread base, hence the recipe below, but I do see that bought puff pastry provides a quick and easy alternative.  The topping is also sometimes varied, for example I have seen slices of tomato included.  At this point I think we are missing the simplicity of the dish – the topping should consist of plenty of slowly cooked onions, with a lattice formed by anchovies and a black olive punctuating each of the diamonds formed by the anchovy lattice. – “Simples”!

1 kg onions

50g butter

2 cloves garlic, crushed


jar anchovy fillets, cut in half lengthwise

24 black niçoise olives

Bread dough:

10g fresh yeast

10g sea salt (preferably Maldon)

375g strong flour

225ml tepid water

2 tbsp. olive oil

Peel and halve the onions then slice them thinly.  Melt the butter in a large oven proof pan.  Turn the onion slices in the melted butter until they are all coated.  Add the crushed garlic and some fresh thyme leaves.  Cover and cook in a low oven (120°C) for a couple of hours until very soft.  Remove the pan from the oven and place over a higher heat to drive off any remaining liquid and lightly caramelise.  Leave to cool.

To make the bread, stir the yeast into the tepid water, then add the olive oil.  Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl, pour in the liquid and mix to form a dough.  Turn out and knead until smooth.  Return to the bowl, cover, place in a warm place to double in size – about 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 200°C.  Turn out the risen dough and “knock back” by kneading briefly.  Roll or stretch to fit an oiled baking tray about 30×24 cm in size.  Cover with the cooked onion then form a lattice of anchovy slices (cut lengthwise if thick).  Place a black olive in the centre of each diamond formed by the anchovies.

Bake for 25-30 minutes.



Salade Niçoise

This salad often includes Tuna, but provided you include sufficient good quality anchovies it is quite superfluous. The salad should be arranged rather than tossed, with crossed anchovies as the final garnish.  The other ingredients should include: Little Gem lettuce, boiled new potatoes, cooked green beans, just boiled eggs, tomatoes, olives, capers, chopped flat leaf parsley and, of course, anchovy fillets, 5 per person.

The dressing includes raw garlic, finely chopped with salt, pepper and red wine vinegar finished with good olive oil.

Caesar Salad

Caesar salad is apparently named not after the Roman Emperor but the brother of the chef, Alex Cardini, who created it.  Since then there have been many variations on the original recipe.  The enduring popularity of this salad is no doubt partly due to the strong umami taste of anchovies, Parmesan cheese and Worcester sauce, which, when combined with sour lemon juice makes an exciting, refreshing salad.

Serves 6

3 cos (or romaine) lettuce

12 anchovies

3 cloves of garlic, finely sliced

6 slices of good white bread

2 eggs, at room temperature

12 tsps lemon juice

3 tsps Worcester sauce

18 tbsps olive oil

freshly ground black pepper

9 tbsps freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4.  Put 6 tablespoons of olive oil in a small pan with the slices of garlic and heat very gently, on no account allowing the garlic to burn.  Remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 10 minutes.

Remove the garlic from the oil and lay the bread in the pan to absorb the oil.  Cut the bread into cubes and scatter on a baking sheet.  Bake for 10-15 minutes until crisp.

Cut the anchovies into strips, putting 3 fillets into a mortar and the rest in a bowl with the washed and dried lettuce leaves.  Grind the 3 anchovy fillet to a paste and blend with the lemon juice and Worcester sauce.

Break the eggs into barely simmering water and poach for 1-2 minutes, until the white is just opaque.  Now use a teaspoon to lift the yolks out of the pan (discarding the whites) and add them to the anchovy and lemon mixture.  Slowly whisk in the olive oil to form an emulsion.  Season with black pepper (taste, it probably won’t need salt).  Pour over the lettuce, add the Parmesan cheese and croutons and roll the leaves gently to coat.



Orecchiette con Broccoli

Orecchiette con Cime di Rape o Broccoli

Orecchiette means “little ears”, the little cup shapes are formed by hand in southern Italy, although you can sometimes buy them dried.  They are traditionally served with Cime di Rape (turnip tops) in Puglia, although similar recipes using broccoli, Romanesco or cauliflower are found elsewhere in the south, for example in Sicily.  The flowering greens are cooked with anchovies, raisins and pine nuts.  If you can’t find orecchiette, other small shapes such as farfalle are fine, or I have seen bucatini (a thicker version of spaghetti) used in Sicily.  Saffron is a good addition to cauliflower, I also like to add some chopped preserved lemon.  Use this recipe as a guide adjusting cooking times depending on the vegetable used.

1 head of broccoli, cut into florets, stem peeled and sliced finely

Olive oil


4 anchovies, minced


Pine nuts

Saffron and preserved lemon (optional)*

Pangrattato (fried breadcrumbs) to serve

Bring a large pan of water to the boil.

Meanwhile dice the shallot, diced stem and anchovy and cook gently in olive oil.

When the water is boiling add a ladleful to the vegetables together with a pinch of saffron, if using, and the raisins.

Add a couple of tablespoons of salt to the pasta water, then add the pasta.  Add the broccoli florets at a point in the cooking time so that they will be cooked at the same time as the pasta.

When the water has evaporated from the vegetables, add the pine nuts and brown lightly.

Drain the pasta, retained a little of the cooking water, toss with the vegetables and sufficient water to amalgamate.

Top with pangrattato to serve.

*Note: Not authentic, but I like the addition of preserved lemon, added with the anchovies.

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