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.
- 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
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil for the spaghetti.
- 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.
- 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.
- Add the capers, parsley and a few grinds of black pepper. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- 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.
- 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.
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.