This past May, I had some birthday money to spend, so I chose to explore the aisles of Buon Italia at the Chelsea Market. I was on a mission to find "Colatura Alici", which I read that the ancient Romans coveted so much. I love the salty backbone flavor that anchovies can lend to a salad dressing, pasta, or even pizza. If you overcome the fear of anchovies, you will realize how they can really assist you in your kitchen by increasing depth of flavor. This stuff is pricey, I won't lie, I managed to score a tiny 100 ML bottle for about $13. It's basically the extract of salt anchovies that gets bottled to become Colatura. I would almost compare it to Asian fish sauce in the way that you can utilize it. I use it more sparingly than quality Extra Virgin Olive oil, a tablespoon will really give you that noticeable flavor in pastas and dressings. The first dish I made when I got home was a quick cannellini bean salad. Cannellini always absorb flavor when you combine them with tomatoes, or lemon and olive oil; however, I wanted to jazz them up by adding a tablespoon of colatura. You honestly do not need much salt when using this in your cooking. You have the creamy texture of the cannellini complimented with the acidity of the fresh tomatoes, garlic, and the Buffalo mozzarella adds some nice tang along with the peppery arugula. When I close my eyes and taste Colatura, it brings me right back to Naples where I enjoyed simple dishes with fresh seafood and quality ingredients. I will speak no more, you must pickup a bottle for yourself and start using this magical potion. Get creative with it, your food will have so much flavor. —James Durazzo
Cans of Goya Cannellini Beans rinsed and drained under cold water
Plum Tomatoes (skin, remove seeds, and cut into small dice)
Baby/Wild Arugula leaves
Clove of Garlic sliced thin
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Red pepper flakes (Peperoncino) to your pallate
In a skillet, start by heating the garlic and peperoncino until fragrant. When the garlic starts to take on color and become slightly golden, turn up the heat to medium and add in the tomato concassé (peeled, seeded, diced tomatoes). The tomatoes will stop the garlic from overcooking. Let the tomatoes cook gently on medium/low flame for 1-2 minutes.
Add the cannellini beans to the skillet, and warm them through. Since they are already cooked, there's no long cooking involved.
Add 1-1-1/2 tablespoons of Colatura to the beans and tomatoes. Stir gently to incorporate, then taste adjust seasoning. If you feel it needs more salt, add a pinch of sea salt or additional sparing amount of Colatura. The flavor ultimately depends o your palate.
To serve, spoon the beans and tomatoes on a flat plate, and place your buffalo mozzarella ball right in the center. (You could also tear the ball open to reveal the creamy interior). At the last minute, toss the arugula leaves with a few drops of extra virgin olive oil, and a few drips of fresh lemon juice, scatter the leaves around the plate. Drizzle some additional extra virgin olive oil over the dish.