Sun-dried tomatoes deserve to make a comeback: there, I said it. I know that they went from a trendy restaurant ingredient in the 80s to being completely overdone in the 90s and 00s, but it’s 2021, we’re emerging from a pandemic, and I think enough time has passed that we can give them another go. Between Ed Lee’s delicious sun-dried tomato ketchup on his piggy burgers to Rafael Palomino’s sun-dried tomato rainbow salsa to so many more applications, sun-dried tomatoes are pretty awesome. The natural glutamates in tomatoes are concentrated to provide an intense, savory flavor, and that only intensifies when combining them with other umami-rich ingredients like anchovies.
The pairing of anchovies and sun-dried tomatoes has been on my mind a lot recently due to another project I was working on, and I think that led to me devising this little montadito as part of a Saturday night Basque-style pintxos spread. The inspiration for this came initially from a similar pintxo in Basque Country, in which Marti Buckley builds a montadito of goat cheese, sun-dried tomato, and iberico ham. I’ve made that before and it’s really tasty, but the whole sun-dried tomato can be a bit unwieldy. Instead, I made a simple puree of sun-dried tomatoes and roasted garlic and used that as a spread. The crème fraîche was initially an accident as I had forgotten to get some goat cheese at tnd instead just went with this instead, and Michael ended up preferring it.
As for the anchovies, soaking them in milk does soften their taste a little bit, and by cutting them in half, they make their presence known without completely overwhelming the bite. Garnished with a flurry of parsley, this feels very much in the spirit of something you’d find at a local pintxos bar in one of the quieter neighborhoods of San Sebastian, as it happens to pair very nicely with a glass of txakoli.
So consider this one of my examples in my case for enjoying sun-dried tomatoes again–I’ll be sharing more in this space very soon.
Montaditos of crème fraîche, sun-dried tomato puree, and anchovies
Makes eight small toasts
- 1 10-oz jar oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, oil reserved
- 1 head of garlic
- Kosher salt
- 1 TB olive oil
- 8 slices from a baguette
- 4 anchovies
- 2 TB milk (whole or 2%)
- ¼ cup crème fraîche
- 1 TB flat-leaf parsley, minced
- Flaky sea salt, for garnish (optional)
Roast the garlic: slice the head of garlic in half, place in a foil packet, drizzle with the olive oil and season with kosher salt. Wrap the foil packet and roast for 20 minutes in a convection toaster oven at 475 degrees or for 45 minutes in a conventional oven at 475 degrees, or until soft. Remove and let the packet cool before handling.
Place the anchovies into a small bowl with the milk and let soak until ready to assemble the montaditos.
Place the sun-dried tomatoes into a food processor or a container for an immersion blender with its oil. Squeeze the garlic cloves into the container with the tomatoes and then process until the puree is smooth. (You’ll have extra which you can use for pesto, a compound butter, or to blend with chickpeas to make a really tasty dip.) Season with additional kosher salt to taste.
To assemble the montaditos: remove the anchovies from the milk and slice each in half. Spread each baguette round with creme fraiche, and then layer with the sun-dried tomato puree, and top with half an anchovy and place on a serving platter. When all montaditos are assembled, garnish with the parsley and flaky sea salt, if using, and serve immediately.