The other day a friend brought me a humble present — a jar of anchovies. But not just any anchovies. They were from Collioure, a picturesque fishing port on the French Mediterranean coast, which by some accounts produces the best anchovies in the world. I decided to try them out in a tangy salad of potatoes and black olives, set on a bed of baby spinach leaves, with mellow eggs on the side. The combination proved to be a knock-out.
Salade pommes de terre anchois / Potato-anchovy salad
Collioure, a small town just north of the Spanish border, is a popular tourist destination. It is perhaps best known today for the artists who flocked there a century ago, among them Matisse, Braque, Picasso and Dali, drawn by the light. But well before the artists came, the town was known for its anchovies: the tiny fish, found in abundance off the coast, have been netted and salted by local fishermen since the Middle Ages.
When I looked into the use of anchovies in Collioure’s cuisine, I found only a single recipe: an apéritif plate of anchovies, roasted red peppers, olives and hard boiled eggs, sprinkled with garlic, parsley and olive oil. That sounded pretty good — but it felt like a dish for summer, and we’re only just entering spring. So I decided to improvise.
Anchovies marry supremely well with potatoes, which soften the salty tang. In this salad, the potatoes are bathed in a sauce of lemon juice, olive oil and crushed coriander. Anchovies and olives are added to the mixture, and the baby spinach leaves are coated with lemon, olive oil and garlic. Served with crusty bread and a glass of rosé, it will have you dreaming of summer — a fine way to spring into spring.