Spaghettini alle alici – spaghettini with anchovies

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This is one of the most simple but ancient pasta preparations, served often in Sicily and always at the Christmas Eve feast. It is important to use only the best anchovies – Sicilian anchovies packed in salt or in glass jars with olive oil.

  • 24 black Greek style olives, pitted
  • 6 flat anchovy fillets
  • 1/3 C. OO
  • 5 garlic cloves, lightly smashed and peeled
  • 1 dry red hot pepper, chopped
  • 1 lb. spaghettini pasta
  • 1/4 C. toasted bread crumbs


Prepare the bread crumbs using good stale bread, ground into fine crumbs. Dry them on a cookie sheet by baking them in a 375°F oven for 15 minutes, or toasting them briefly in a dry cast-iron skillet.

In a food processor, chop the olives together with the anchovies to a very fine, pulpy consistency.

Combine 1/4 C. of the OO with the garlic and some of the chopped pepper in a small saucepan over moderately high heat; use no more hot pepper than is necessary to give the sauce a lightly piquant accent. Stir the garlic from time to time. When it becomes nut brown in color, remove it from the pan, discard the garlic and turn off the heat.

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water just until al dente. Drain the pasta, transfer to a bowl, and toss with the remaining 1 T. plus 1 tsp. OO.

Turn the heat down to moderately low under the saucepan with the seasoned OO. Stir in the chopped anchovies and olives and cook for just a few seconds; pour the contents of the pan over the pasta and toss thoroughly. Add the bread crumbs, toss and serve at once.

Adapted from -FOOD & WINE- November 1994 – “Spaghettini with anchovies” by Marcella Hazan