Spaghetti with Garlic Breadcrumbs and Anchovies

Even if you're not a fan of anchovies on pizza or salads, we'd be willing to bet you'd find the subtle, rich flavor they lend to this Sicilian-inspired pasta recipe to be pretty incredible. Anchovies are rich in umami – that coveted fifth taste that makes certain savory foods so appealing. Combined with garlic-toasted breadcrumbs, a handful of capers and fresh parsley, the anchovies in this quick, easy dish add a wonderful depth of flavor without being fishy. Be sure to check our notes for purchasing recommendations.

Spaghetti with Garlic Breadcrumbs and Anchovies

Spaghetti with Garlic Breadcrumbs and Anchovies

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

Inspired by a traditional Sicilian pasta dish, this recipe combines spaghetti with plenty of sautéed garlic, toasted breadcrumbs, anchovies, capers and fresh parsley.


  • 10 ounces thin spaghetti
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 cup onion, chopped
  • 4 to 6 anchovy fillets, finely chopped (see notes)
  • 6 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2 cups coarse, fresh breadcrumbs (see instructions below)
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • Salt (if needed) and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil for the spaghetti.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent, 2 minutes. Add the anchovies, garlic and red pepper flakes. Continue cooking, stirring often, until the anchovies break down and the garlic is soft and fragrant, 1-1/2 to 2 minutes longer.
  3. Add the breadcrumbs and continue cooking until they are golden and evenly toasted. Keep the mixture moving in the pan so it doesn't get overly browned and become bitter.
  4. Add the capers, parsley and a few grinds of black pepper. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  5. Cook the pasta according to package directions, drain and toss with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Combine with the crumb mixture, taste and adjust the seasoning as desired.
  6. Important Note: Anchovies can be rather salty and vary from brand to brand, so be careful when adding extra salt.


How to make coarse breadcrumbs:

Preheat the oven to 300°F and place a few slices of bread (preferably crusty Italian) on a baking sheet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until dry but not toasted, turning once after about 6 minutes. Allow to cool completely, then break the slices into pieces, place them in a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin to a coarse consistency.

Tip: How many slices of bread you'll need depends on the diameter of your loaf. General rule of thumb is that 1 ounce of bread will make 1/2 cup of fresh crumbs.

If you're in a hurry, you can substitute panko crumbs, but we like to use fresh crumbs whenever possible.

About anchovies:

When purchasing anchovies, it's best not to economize. Look for a good quality brand packed in olive oil - preferably one that is packed in a jar rather than a tin.

Leftovers can be successfully frozen. Simply roll the anchovies up individually, place them on a plate about 1/2-inch apart, cover with plastic wrap and freeze. Once they're solid, transfer them to a zip-top freezer bag. They'll keep about 2 months with very little loss of flavor.