Pasta with anchovies and tomatoes

This pasta dish with tomato, olive, anchovy, capers, lemon, garlic and basil is pure heaven in a bowl. It reminds me of summer and everything I love to eat. When I dream of this, I also dream of long lazy lunches on a patio overlooking the sea with regular swims to cool off. It contains some of my favourite flavours and it makes me very happy.

I did the food styling for my client UCook recently and this was one of the dishes we shot for their website. They are South Africa’s best home-cooking meal delivery service and I love their recipes. They source top quality produce and ethically farmed meat so you can trust that your food comes from a good place. I’ve made so many of their recipes before and blogged about a few of them. My two favourite are the trout cooked en papillote – which is so ultra delicious and healthy I eat it almost every week. The oven baked cauliflower risotto is another winning recipe which I’ve made a few times.

I played around with a few of the ratios for this dish but kept the list of ingredients the same as theirs (apart from adding a sprinkling of smoked chilli flakes). I love all these flavours so much and really wanted my pasta to be super punchy, but you can adapt this to your liking. I think adding pan-fried prawns to the final dish would be amazing and definitely something I want to try soon.

I’ve called it a summer pasta but it can be made all year round. It’s especially nice in winter when you are craving a summery day.

Recipe serves 2

Pasta with tomato, olives, anchovy, basil & lemon 2018-09-10 12:06:18Write a review Print Ingredients

  1. 250gms long noodle pasta (spaghetti or linguini)
  2. 3 – 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or crushed
  3. ½ – 1 green or red chilli de-seeded and finely chopped (additional dried chilli flakes too if desired)
  4. 6 – 8 anchovy fillets, roughly chopped
  5. 50g black Calamata olives, de-pitted and halved
  6. 30 gm capers drained and roughly chopped
  7. 300gms baby tomatoes halved
  8. Bunch basil (about 10gms) roughly chopped
  9. Small bunch parsley (about 8gms) roughly chopped
  10. Zest of half a lemon
  11. 30 – 40gms grated Parmesan or however much you like
  12. olive oil for cooking
  13. Sea salt & black pepper


  1. Bring a large pot of water to the boil and salt generously. Cook the pasta according to the pack instructions and until al dente. Once cooked drain and set aside with a little olive oil drizzled over to separate the noodles.
  2. While the water is boiling, chop up all the ingredients in the recipe as mentioned above. Set aside.
  3. When the pasta is nearly ready, heat a non-stick pan over a medium heat and add a generous glug of olive oil. Cook the tomatoes for about 1 minute then add the garlic and chilli. Toss around the pan for about 2 minutes. Add the anchovies, olives and capers and cook for a further minute or two. Add a splash of water if necessary and if the ingredients start to stick to the pan. Swirl around to ensure the water emulsifies with the sauce.
  4. Add the drained pasta to the sauce and add the lemon zest. Once it’s heated through and mixed, remove the pan from the heat and add the chopped herbs. Serve immediately with the grated Parmesan cheese and extra fresh basil if desired. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Drizzle and Dip For my other Ucook recipes:

Trout with fennel & tomatoes

Oven roasted cauliflower risotto

Chicken & mushroom stroganoff with crispy sage

Grilled soy and lime hake with charred greens, fresh tomato & a chilli dressing

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Silky laced spaghetti noodles with an Anchovy and Tomato Sauce. The anchovies dissolve and create a delicious salty base for this tomato heavy pasta sauce.

This oven baked tomato sauce is one of my favourites. A dump and go sauce that requires minimal prep, but is so crazy good that you might never buy store bought again. Combined with long noodles, this Anchovy and Tomato Pasta is sure to become a family favourite.

I know the title has anchovies in it, but I promise, no one will be able to tell the difference. My entire family is under the impression that they don’t like anchovies, and yet every time I make this sauce (up 6 times in the last month to test this recipe) it disappears incredibly fast.

Anchovies get a bad rap from when they’re improperly served. The anchovies breakdown so much in this Anchovy Pasta that they essentially disappear and leave only their umami flavour behind. They’re a great way to season a dish that leave people wanting more.

I love having a tube of anchovy paste in my fridge to add that extra touch of umami to dishes from salad dressings to sauces like this one. While I’m not opposed to cracking open a tin or jar of anchovies, the tube of paste allows me to use only what is required with zero waste since the tube keeps for some time in the fridge. Once you’re comfortable using it anchovy paste is a great way to sneak in more omega-3s into your family’s diet.

Are anchovies healthy?

These tiny fish pull their weight with omega-3s, protein (iron), and calcium in addition to a few other vitamins and minerals. Only a small amount of anchovies deliver similar nutrition to bigger pieces of other fish (such as salmon in the omega-3 department) making them a great seafood choice that won’t break the bank.

This anchovy pasta sauce is similar to a puttanesca sauce, but without the olives. My husband and kids detest olives and can detect them in puttanesca sauce (which makes me incredibly sad and has me longing for green olive bread like nobody’s business) so this recipe has been adapted to suit the olive-haters out there.

This Kale Caesar Salad uses an egg-free dressing that has anchovy paste in it as well (a great way to use up that tube of anchovy paste).

5 from 4 votesAnchovy and Tomato Pasta Prep Time 5 mins Cook Time 20 mins Total Time 25 mins

Silky laced spaghetti noodles with an Anchovy and Tomato Sauce. This umami heavy anchovy pasta has an oven baked tomato heavy sauce and is brightened by basil and garlic.

Course: Main Course Cuisine: Italian Keyword: anchovy, pasta, pasta sauce Author: Samantha Ingredients

  • 2 cups halved cherry tomatoes (or other small and sweet tomatoes)
  • 6-8 fillets anchovies OR 3 tbsp anchovy paste*
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 8-10 basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 lbs (454 grams) dried spaghetti noodles**


  1. Preheat oven to 425° F.

  2. In an ovenproof dish mix together tomatoes, anchovies, garlic, basil, oil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, and tomato paste. Bake for 20-25 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Anchovies and tomatoes should be soft and easily broken down with a spoon.

  3. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of salted water, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water.

  4. Mash tomato mixture with a potato masher and mix in reserved cooking pasta water. Taste and season with more salt if required (add only a pinch or two at a time).

  5. Toss noodles in sauce. Serve with additional finely chopped basil and parmesan cheese if desired.

Recipe Notes

* My preferred anchovy paste can be found here. If the idea of 3 tbsp sounds like too much for your first go at anchovies, cut the anchovy amount in half and build up from there.

** I always save 1/2 cup of the pasta water and mix it into the sauce so it creates a silky texture.

Enjoy! xo

If I had to choose, my top 10 foods in tins (in reverse order) would be: custard, Spanish olives stuffed with almonds, sweetcorn, peas, pear halves, borlotti beans, sardines, anchovies, chickpeas, tuna and, coming in at number one, tomatoes. As rankings go, this was a lot harder to choose than I had imagined. I’m quite relieved this is only hypothetical, so I don’t have to worry about snubbing mackerel, baked beans, peaches, cannellini, pineapple, corned beef, evaporated milk and tomato soup. I also don’t have to dwell on the tuna/chickpea positioning (on reflection, maybe they should be joint third).

What wasn’t difficult, though, was choosing which tin should clinch the number one spot: the unchallenged queen of the cupboard, tinned tomatoes. As my partner Vincenzo, the grandson of a Sicilian tomato farmer, once noted: “They smile at you from the shelf as if to say, ‘I have your back.’”

When I was about 10, spurred on by Blue Peter, I wrote letters to dozens of companies telling them I was doing a school project on tea, stamps, wine gums, washing-up liquid and tinned food. The pay-off for my letters and stamped, self-addressed envelopes was enormous: envelopes five times the size and weight of the ones I had put in the postbox at the end of the road were squashed back through my letterbox. There were letters of support, worksheets, samples of tea and gummy sweets, key rings and bouncy desk toys. I was a diligent child and took my rewards seriously, reading the worksheets and using tiny coloured pencils for the dot-to-dots, sticking stickers about the history of tinned food as enthusiastically as I ate the wine gums.

What stuck in my 10-year-old mind was that, while it was a Frenchman who invented a method of preserving, it was an Englishman who was granted the patent to do it in tin cans. Now, I know the Frenchman was called Nicolas Appert and there was another, Philippe de Girard, who brought the process to England, where it was patented in 1811 by Englishman Peter Durand during the reign of George III – Norman Cowell, a retired lecturer at the department of food science at Reading University, has done extensive research about this, which makes for wonderful reading. However, at 10, I was simply grateful to anyone involved in the discovery that beef, beans, peaches, custard and tomatoes could be put in tins.

Plum tomatoes are the athletes of the tomato world. They’re meaty and muscular, with relatively little juice and just a few seeds, which makes them ideal for putting in tins because they don’t disintegrate (though you can then mash them to a sauce). San Marzano are the Olympians, keeping their shape and having a good balance of sweet and savoury. They’re worth looking out for, especially if they’re marked DOP, but, that said, the last thing tinned tomatoes need is exclusivity – try different brands and go for the one that suits your pocket and tastebuds best. There is no such ambivalence or cloudy opinions on anchovies: they are either the greatest thing or the devil incarnate. Nor are there mild feelings about the brown-grey sludge that results from melting anchovies with 30g of butter and three tablespoons of olive oil – you either think it’s beautiful or you don’t. The finished sauce is excellent as is, or do as the River Cafe does and stir in some cream. Or sprinkle 50g of grated parmesan into the pan during the last minutes of cooking, which will soften the edges and make a good sauce from two tins even better.

Pasta with tomato, anchovy and rosemary sauce

Prep 10 min
Cook 40 min
Serves 4-6

3 tbsp olive oil
30g butter
1 small tin anchovies in oil, drained
1 sprig rosemary, leaves only, chopped finely
800g tin peeled plum tomatoes
75g parmesan, grated
1 tbsp cream (optional)
500g pasta (penne, fusilli,spaghetti or bucatini)

Melt the olive oil and butter in a heavy-based frying pan over a medium-low heat. Add the anchovies and rosemary, mashing the anchovies until they melt into the oil and butter.

Using scissors, chop the tomatoes while still in the tin, then add to the frying pan, mashing with a spoon to break them up further. Bring almost to a boil, then reduce the heat and gently simmer until the sauce is thick and rich – about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the pack instructions in plenty of boiling salted water, then drain.

In the last minutes of cooking, add two-thirds of the parmesan to the sauce, and a little cream if you like.

Add the pasta to the sauce and serve with the rest of the parmesan sprinkled on top.

Midnight Spaghetti (Spaghettata di Mezzanotte) The after-party Italian tradition of “midnight spaghetti” gave birth to this lusty pasta dish of anchovies, capers, tomatoes, and garlicky breadcrumbs. Yield: serves 4-6


  • 1 (12-oz.) loaf crusty bread, sliced 1″ thick
  • 10 cloves garlic (3 peeled, 7 thinly sliced)
  • 3⁄4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp. crushed red chile flakes
  • 10 canned oil-packed anchovy fillets, 2 tbsp. oil reserved
  • 1⁄3 cup capers, drained
  • 1 (28-oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • 1 lb. casarecce, or spaghetti
  • 1⁄2 cup roughly chopped parsley
  • Zest of 1 lemon


  1. Heat oven to 350°. Place bread on a baking sheet; bake until toasted, 20–25 minutes. Transfer bread to a cutting board; rub with whole garlic cloves, drizzle with 1⁄4 cup oil, and sprinkle with 1⁄3 cup parmesan, salt, and pepper. Mince 1 piece of bruschetta; transfer with crumbs to a bowl.
  2. Heat 1⁄4 cup oil, the sliced garlic, and chile flakes in a 12″ skillet over medium heat; cook until garlic is soft, 2–3 minutes. Add anchovies and their oil; cook, stirring and mashing them up until they melt, 3–4 minutes. Add capers; cook until golden, 3–4 minutes. Add tomatoes; simmer until sauce is slightly thickened, 4–5 minutes. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta water and add to skillet with 1⁄4 cup parmesan, the parsley, and zest; toss. Garnish with minced bruschetta, remaining oil, and parmesan; serve with bruschetta.


Spaghetti With Anchovy Sauce

By Alison Roman

Serves 8

2 (28 oz.) cans whole San Marzano tomatoes

¼ cup olive oil

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

8 cloves garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 large onion, finely chopped

Kosher salt and pepper

1 (2–3-oz.) tin or jar of anchovies (size varies)

1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

½ cup tomato paste

½ cup dry red wine

1 lb. spaghetti, or whatever pasta you like

A hunk of Parmesan, for grating

Put the tomatoes into a deep, large bowl (or a pot, that works too). Using your hands, crush the tomatoes. Like, I mean really crush the shit out of them. You could even put them into a blender or food process, but I personally really enjoy this process. There should be no large pieces remaining, just a coarse tomato puree.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a medium or large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until the onion is totally softened but not browned, about 10 minutes. This should happen slowly, it’s called *sweating* the onion. It allows it to cook through and become super soft without caramelizing.

Add all the anchovies and whatever oil they are packed in. Don’t worry about chopping them or anything, they’ll literally just dissolve in the oil (so awesome, right?).

Cook these, stirring occasionally, until they’ve disappeared into the oil, about 2 minutes.

Add the crushed red pepper flakes and give everything a stir, just to kind of toast the pepper flakes.

Add the tomato paste and cook until it turns a dark brick red color, about 4 minutes (this is caramelizing the sugars in the tomato, which will give you really great flavor and take the edge off that raw tomatoey taste).

Add the wine and cook this about a minute, just to burn off that alcohol.

Add the tomatoes, juices and all and stir everything together, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pot to get all those good bits. Fill one of your empty tomato cans with water and add that to your sauce.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook the sauce for 1 ½–2 hours. You want a very low simmer: There should just be a few bubbles here and there. You want to cook this sauce really low and slow. If medium-low is too hot (every stove is different), turn the heat down to low. Stir this every 30 minutes or so, but for the most part you can kind of ignore it. Now ladle out about 2 cups of sauce: This is what is known as your “extra sauce.” You’ll serve it alongside the pasta or freeze it for later.

To serve, cook the spaghetti (or whatever pasta you like) in a large pot of a salted boiling water. Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce. Serve it right out of the pot, or transfer to a serving bowl. Either way, make sure people grate lots of Parmesan on it when they are serving themselves. Serve with the extra sauce alongside.

Yes, those jars of marinara sauce at the supermarket beckon when you are faced with the question, “What’s for dinner?”

But marinara is surprisingly easy to make and lends itself to many variations. I tried adding some anchovies I had in the freezer to a can of crushed tomatoes recently for a weeknight meal. Their subtle flavor seemed to boost the taste of the tomatoes. (Feel free to use chopped, garden-fresh tomatoes, if you have them!)

Garlic and a little white wine helped round out the sauce’s flavors.


Make a double batch if you have time; freeze in a freezer bag or container for later.

Add a can of flaked tuna, chopped shrimp or squid for a heartier seafood marinara.

Beverage suggestion

If you like, use a pinot grigio in the sauce, then serve the remainder for dinner.


*Linguine with garlic marinara

*Prosciutto-wrapped breadsticks

*Greens and olives salad

*Lemon gelato, biscotti

Linguine with garlic marinara

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, sliced

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 anchovy fillets, finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper, or to taste

1/4 cup each: dry white wine, water

1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes

3/4 pound whole-wheat or regular linguine

Parmesan cheese, optional

1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add onion; cook, stirring, until soft, 3 minutes. Lower heat to medium; add garlic, anchovy and red pepper to taste. Cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add wine; cook 5 minutes. Add water and tomatoes; heat to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cook, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, heat a large pot of water to a boil; cook pasta according to package directions. Drain. Place in large serving bowl; add marinara sauce. Toss to coat. Sprinkle with cheese.

Nutrition information per serving: 452 calories, 24% of calories from fat, 13 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 2 mg cholesterol, 71 g carbohydrates, 18 g protein, 359 mg sodium, 16 g fiber


If you’ve never tried anchovy pasta before, you’re in for a treat. If it sounds intimidating, don’t worry. Not only is this dish incredibly easy, but the flavors aren’t overpowering. Anchovies and sliced garlic are gently warmed in extra virgin olive oil until the fillets essentially dissolve, creating a rich, savory sauce. This pasta recipe comes together in about 20 minutes, and is adapted from Anthony Bourdain’s final cookbook, Appetites.

When Anthony Bourdain died this past June, I was in shock, like everyone else. Many people in the industry came out with remarkably thoughtful and well-written tributes within 24-28 hours. These tributes continued to roll in for the next week or two and I read as many as I could handle with both numbness and emotion.

I can’t compete with amazing food writers like Helen Rosner and Kat Kinsman, nor would I try, but I decided to write a brief tribute alongside one of his more simple recipes. Then I stalled. Now here we are, over two months later.

There were two people who had a major impact on my decision to switch career paths in 2009 and attend culinary school– Julia Child and Anthony Bourdain. They both struck a different chord with me that ultimately pointed in the same direction.

While Julia usually sparked the more joyous side of my inspiration, Anthony Bourdain brought out a different sort of feistiness in me. There were many occasions where his divisive words pissed me off, but that annoyance ultimately fueled me. Don’t tell me I’m too old to attend culinary school, sir. I’ll show you.

Divisiveness aside, I ultimately found so much inspiration in both his books and from watching No Reservations. If you haven’t read the New Yorker piece that initially brought him into the public eye, I highly recommend it.

As someone who has struggled with depression for my entire life, his death hit me especially hard. I know it impacted many others as well. There’s really not much else to say that hasn’t already been expressed a thousand times.

This recipe is from his final cookbook, Appetites. If you don’t own any of his cookbooks and aren’t sure which one to try, I highly recommend it. The intro is mostly about his daughter, and how having a family changed his way of cooking at home.

The recipes aren’t overly complicated. They’re comfortable. You’ll find classics like New England clam chowder, buttermilk biscuits, and macaroni and cheese. Mostly seasoned with a pinch of sarcasm, as we would expect. You won’t be disappointed.

Pin Recipe

Spaghetti with Garlic, Anchovies and Parsley

5 from 8 votes This flavorful anchovy pasta is incredibly easy to prepare, and it comes together in around 20 minutes! Course Main Course Cuisine American, Italian Keyword anchovy pasta Prep Time 5 minutes Cook Time 15 minutes Total Time 20 minutes Servings 6 – 8 servings Calories 303 Author Jennifer Farley

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 8 oil-packed anchovy fillets, rinsed, drained, and patted dry
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (see notes)
  • 1 pound spaghetti, uncooked
  • 1 cup Italian parsley leaves
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more to taste
  • In a large sauce pot, bring generously salted water to a rolling boil.
  • Place a large sauté pan over medium-low heat (I recommend a flat-sided pan for this recipe), then add the olive oil. Add the garlic, anchovies, and pepper flakes, coat with the oil, and cook slowly, stirring occasionally with a heat-resistant spatula or wooden spoon, until the garlic is fragrant and the anchovies are melting into the oil, 5-7 minutes. Keep an eye on the pan to make sure the garlic doesn’t burn or toast; adjust the heat if necessary.
  • Meanwhile, once the pasta water reaches a boil, add the spaghetti and cook according to package instructions until al dente. Just before it’s finished, add the parsley to the sauté pan and toss with the other ingredients.
  • Use tongs to carefully transfer the pasta directly from the boiling water to the sauté pan (you want some pasta water to transfer; it will help create the sauce).
  • Increase the heat to medium and toss the pasta with the pan ingredients. If needed, add a small drizzle each of oil and pasta water to keep everything smooth. Taste the pasta and season with salt to taste.
  • Transfer to individual serving plates or bowls and top with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.


1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper won’t add much heat, just a bit of flavor and warmth in the background. I added an extra pinch of crushed red pepper, which still didn’t overpower. You can add a bit more if you like a kick. Barely adapted from Appetites by Anthony Bourdain

Please read my full post for additional recipe notes, tips, and serving suggestions!


Calories: 303kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 6mg | Sodium: 108mg | Potassium: 156mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 50IU | Vitamin C: 0.7mg | Calcium: 96mg | Iron: 1mg

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More Pasta Recipes You May Enjoy

  • Cacio e Pepe
  • Creamy Sausage Mushroom Pasta
  • Spaghetti with Parmesan, Pine Nuts and Brown Butter Sauce
  • Penne Pasta with Short Rib Ragu (from Fifteen Spatulas)

As a little girl I prayed for tonsilitis. Once I got it, I would have a week off school so they could whip out my tonsils, then, like a boy in my class, I too would be prescribed ice-cream and jelly for breakfast. Despite getting on my knees and repeating hail Marys, I got neither tonsillitis, nor the soothing rewards. Unless your tonsils are being removed, ice-cream is not an appropriate way to start the day, I might well have been told. But try telling this to a Sicilian – my partner for example – who, from spring to late autumn, thinks gelato and granita a perfectly ordinary and sensible way to begin the day.

The first time I saw my childhood fantasy alive and kicking was in Catania, a lively city on the east coast in the shadow of Mount Etna. In the fish market, which plays out like a piece of bloody theatre in the sunken Piazza Duomo, men were standing around a market bar eating sweet, yeasted brioche – split and filled, generously, with ice-cream. In the smallest of the bars opposite the duomo itself, people of all sorts were starting their day with glass cups of almond, coffee or lemon granita, spoonfuls alternated with bites of warm brioche.

I joined in, wondering if I could see the tip of Mount Etna with its cap of snow. The Greeks and Romans used snow from Etna to cool their wine. The Arabs, on the other hand, used it to freeze their sweet drinks or sharbat. Sicilians still claim Arab origins for their sorbetti, gelati and granita.

This was 12 years ago – my first trip to Sicily (from which I never returned to England). I was travelling around the island more or less on the coast, where towns are like punctuation marks. In the eastern town of Noto I visited a caffè, which I now know to be Caffè Sicilia, where I ate almond granita, ivory in colour and such a creamy, gliding delight that I ordered another.

Years later, in Rome, I would read about Caffè Sicilia and Corrado Assenza, the gentle king of Sicilian patisserie and ices. Later still, with my Sicilian partner, we would drive from our house further along the coast, my son shouting “Are we there yet?”, to eat Corrado’s triumphant cakes and granita di gelsi (mulberry), which is such an intense shade of garnet red it leaves a mark on your tongue almost as startling as its taste. Almost everything Corrado and his son make uses local ingredients: lemons, citrons, mandarins, mulberries, figs, jasmine, almonds, and local ricotta.

Meeting Corrado two weeks ago was a little like meeting my Willy Wonka. I was attending Fabrizia Lanza’s course, Cook The Farm, which, over 10 weeks, looks closely at Sicilian ingredients. Corrado was our guest teacher that week, arriving on the Tuesday night in a white van full of good things to teach us about honey and citrus. To start, he infused milk and cream with bitter orange and mandarin, which he then strained and thickened to serve with almond cake.

For our main course, he made a risotto with fish stock, marinating the fish – mullet and prawns – in honey. Local artichokes were cooked in their own juices with no salt and no lid, a way of maintaining flavour and colour – which will please those of you who found the discoloration from last week off-putting. The artichokes were dressed with olive oil and a startling hint of bergamot. To finish, he made pasta with anchovy and lemon, topping it with breadcrumbs and some of the artichokes. This was my favourite dish, maybe because I knew straight away it was a dish I would take home and make again and again. It is today’s recipe.

The idea is simple: you infuse olive oil with anchovies, onion, garlic and strips of lemon zest over a low flame. While the oil rests, you prepare toasted breadcrumbs, a quintessential Sicilian finish that gives substance and contrast. Once you have pulled out the onion, garlic and lemon zest, you toss the oil with pasta and lemon juice. The vigorous toss is important as this is when the oil, lemon juice and starch from the pasta emulsify into a gentle sauce that coats the pasta. Finish each serving with breadcrumbs.

The flavours are insistent and rich: the deep flavour of anchovy with a hint of onion and garlic; the sweet acidity of lemon, which seems at its most inherently alive when used for spring cooking, sharpening flavours like a heavy pencil outline. Depending on how much pasta you boil, this could be an Italian style primo (first course), or main course, with vegetables served after. I hope after the first two paragraphs, you want ice-cream or granita for dessert, or breakfast – or both.

Pasta with anchovy, lemon and breadcrumbs

Serves 4
A small onion
A small garlic clove
1 large lemon
8 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more for toasting the breadcrumbs
50g anchovy fillets
50g breadcrumbs
400–500g pasta (penne, mezze maniche, linguine, spaghetti)

1 Peel the onion and garlic, then cut the onion into eighths, and the garlic clove in half. Use a peeler to take off two strips of lemon. Put the olive oil, anchovies, onion, garlic and lemon in a frying pan and warm over a very low flame until the anchovies have disintegrated into the oil. Take off the heat and leave to sit.

2 Prepare the breadcrumbs by frying them gently, over a low-medium flame in a little olive oil, with a pinch of salt, until they are just starting to turn golden – keep an eye on them – then pull them from the heat.

3 Bring a pan of water to the boil, add salt, then the pasta and cook until al dente. Meanwhile, use a slotted spoon to lift the onion, garlic and lemon from the oil.

4 In the last minute of pasta cooking time, gently warm the oil and anchovies. Once the pasta is ready, drain it, then mix with the oil, either in the frying pan, or if you have used a small pan, a bowl. Add the juice of half a lemon and toss vigorously to emulsify the oil and lemon juice into a cream. Divide between plates, and top each serving with crumbs and a little grated lemon if you like.

  • Rachel Roddy is an award-winning food writer based in Rome and the author of Five Quarters: Recipes and Notes from a Kitchen in Rome (Saltyard) @racheleats

Spaghetti with Anchovies, Olives, and Toasted Bread Crumbs


    1. Fill a 6-quart pasta pot three fourths full with salted water and bring to a boil for pasta.
    2. Tear bread into pieces and in a blender or food processor pulse to make coarse crumbs. Finely chop onion. Mince garlic. Rinse anchovies and pat dry. In a sieve rinse and drain peppers and olives. Cut peppers into 1‚-inch-long strips and quarter olives.
    3. In a deep 12-inch heavy skillet heat 2 tablespoons oil over moderate heat until hot but not smoking and stir in bread crumbs. Toast bread crumbs, stirring constantly, until golden and crisp, about 2 minutes, and transfer to a plate to cool. Wipe skillet clean.
    4. In skillet heat remaining 4 tablespoons oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and cook onion, stirring, until golden brown on edges. Remove skillet from heat and add garlic and anchovies. Cook mixture over moderately low heat, stirring until fillets are dissolved, about 2 minutes. Carefully pour wine down side of skillet and simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced to about 2 tablespoons. Remove skillet from heat and stir in peppers, olives, and 1/4 cup parsley.
    5. Cook pasta in boiling water, stirring occasionally, until al dente and ladle out and reserve 1 cup pasta water. Drain pasta in a colander and add to sauce with 1/2 cup reserved pasta water and salt and pepper to taste. Heat mixture over low heat, gently tossing (and adding more pasta water as needed if mixture becomes dry), until just heated through. Sprinkle pasta with remaining 1/4 cup parsley and some bread crumbs and serve remaining bread crumbs on the side.

Puttanesca sauce is a tangy, somewhat salty spaghetti sauce made with ingredients typical of Southern Italian cuisine: tomatoes, olive oil, olives, capers, and garlic. Giuliano Hazan, son of famed Italian cookbook writer Marcella Hazan, calls this riff “a tomato-less version – or “bianca” in Italian, meaning white. ()

Hazan substitutes thick bread crumbs for the tomatoes “to hold all the flavors together.” The dish also combines garlic, parsley, olives, anchovies, extra virgin olive oil, and capers. ()

The recipe appears in Giuliano Hazan’s Thirty Minute Pasta (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2009). You could use our robust Arbosana or Miller’s Blend oils to give even more punch to the flavor.

Hazan says homemade breadcrumbs or panko-style breadcrumbs from the store will work fine in this dish. His final advice: “Though you might think that very little, if any, salt is needed here, unless you season with salt at least moderately, the pasta will taste bland.”

You can find more pasta recipes in our March eNewsletter. (.)

Bon appétit,

California Olive Ranch Master Miller Bob Singletary