L’Anchoïade

The slim tins of anchovy fillets, packed in oil, will make a fine anchoïade but if you are able to track down (which is easier in France) a small jar or glass of whole anchovies, skinned and preserved in vinegar the flavour of this versatile Provençal sauce will be superb.

Anchoïade, thinned with rather more olive oil than usual and a dash of wine vinegar, makes a good dressing for crudités. A bowl of the sauce surrounded by neat piles of raw vegetables – fingers of crisp celery, some slim rosy radishes, tiny batons of cucumber or curving strips of Florentine fennel and green and red peppers – is a lovely hors d’oeuvre.

Or try an exciting contrast of temperatures by pouring the chilled dressing over hot, boiled, new potatoes. The same combination, allowed to cool before adding some black olives, quartered hardboiled eggs, a few rinsed capers and a handful of parsley, finely chopped, makes a very good lunch.

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Ingredients

  • 55 g(2 oz) anchovies, preserved in vinegar or oil
  • 1–2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2–3 tablespoons olive oil
  • milled pepper
  • 8–12 slices French bread
  • juice of half a lemon

Method

Drain the anchovies and, if necessary, remove the backbones. Chop the fish roughly and pound in a mortar or purée in a blender with the garlic until smooth. Gradually add the olive oil and mix to a paste. Season with pepper.

Spread the anchoïade on the slices of bread and toast under a very hot grill until the bread is changing colour at the edges and the anchovy mixture is piping hot. Squeeze a little lemon juice over each slice and serve straight away to accompany a robust red wine.