When I was growing up, I thought anchovies were hairy, stinky, and salty. I ate them anyway, despite the odor and the hairy texture. Spaghetti con Acciughe (spaghetti with anchovies) is probably my favorite pasta dish. My grandmother made it on Good Friday and as one of the seven fish dishes on Christmas Eve. She also made it whenever she felt like it, not worried about violating the unwritten rules about when certain dishes should be served. I do the same.
Spaghetti con Acciughe, or Spaghetti with Anchovies Recipe
- 1 pound spaghetti
- 4 quarts water
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic smashed
- pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 oil-packed tin of anchovies
- 4 tablespoons dried bread crumbs optional
Bring 4 quarts of well-salted water to a rolling boil. Add pasta to boiling water. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the past is al dente (about 8-10 minutes).
While the pasta is cooking, add olive oil to a large skillet (12-inch) at least 2 inches deep. Over low heat, add garlic and crushed red pepper flakes. Sauté smashed garlic cloves until slightly brown, then remove from pan. Add the tin of anchovies including the oil. Stir until anchovies dissolve. Remove from heat.
Drain the pasta, but reserve one ladle of the pasta water. Add the reserved ladle of pasta water to the anchovy oil and stir. Add the pasta and toss until it's well coated with the anchovy oil.
Toss the breadcrumbs with the oil remaining in the pan. Stir once or twice, until the breadcrumbs are toasted. Sprinkle ½ tablespoon of breadcrumbs on each serving of pasta.