The Anchovy Paste Giada De Laurentiis Can't Go Without

As a standout chef in the Italian culinary scene, Giada De Laurentiis can be trusted for doling out solid pantry wisdom. When she shares what goodies she keeps stocked on her own shelves, it's worth taking note, especially when the recommendation is for a pantry MVP like anchovy paste.  

For the uninitiated, anchovy paste, which is a mix of salt, oil, and anchovies, is an essential element of Italian cooking, imparting rich umami flavor to everything from plain marinara to Caesar salad dressing. Anchovies on their own are the secret ingredient to beloved recipes like bagna couda dip or pasta puttanesca. When you opt to use anchovy paste, you're saving yourself a considerable amount of trouble. Because of its fine texture, the paste melts easily into sauces, meat mixes, and glazes, a more convenient and quick option than having to chop whole anchovy fillets. Plus, the taste is noticeably milder than straight fillets, so it will fool those who disdain the fishy anchovy flavor. 

Still, quality counts when it comes to anchovy paste, and not just any old tube will do. So what anchovy paste does De Laurentiis swear allegiance to? She reaches for Amore anchovy paste. 

The benefits of Amore anchovy paste

What's so special about Amore anchovy paste? One point is that it has a superior flavor, noted for its mild yet anchovy-rich taste. The other is that it's produced with high-quality ingredients. Made with Mediterranean-caught anchovies in Italy, Amore anchovy paste is also certified non-GMO and Friend of the Sea, an organization committed to ethical conservation and fishing practices. Complete with a resealable screw-top, the Amore paste is easier to store in the refrigerator than an oily opened tin, the ideal choice for those who are more casual anchovy users. 

Plus, a 2-ounce tube of anchovy paste will stretch further than a 2-ounce can of oil-packed anchovy fillets. If translating a recipe that calls for a whole chopped anchovy rather than paste, consider ½ teaspoon of anchovy paste equivalent to 1 whole anchovy fillet. That means that a typical 2-ounce tube of anchovy paste is packing the equivalent of 24 anchovy fillets, about double what you can get from a tin of anchovies.   

Best ways to use anchovy paste

So you've invested in a tube of anchovy paste — what now? As mentioned before, you can use anchovy paste for several classic recipes, like pasta puttanesca, Caesar dressing, or this particularly delicious Seared Bay Scallops with Bagna Couda. Less obvious uses are to treat your anchovy paste like a dash of Worcestershire or fish sauce, acting as an umami booster to your meatloaf mix, a pot of chili, or braise sauce. 

Due to its fast-dissolving qualities, consider adding it when deglazing your pan, creating a quick pan sauce with rich unctuous flavor. Its salty qualities also lend itself well to veggies dishes, pumping up the savoriness of any vegetable, and adding an almost meaty quality to mushrooms and eggplant. Just be aware of your sodium levels when adding in anchovy paste. You may need to reduce the salt called for in the recipe to balance out the overall salt level. Beyond that, anchovy paste is a highly functional weapon against bland food and a great way for chefs to up their umami quota.