Here’s a take on a recipe I found while figuring out what to make for dinner one day. It’s basic, but it tastes great.
I’ve never had anchovies before (I’m not a real fish person), but I was pleasantly surprised by right amount of brininess they added to the dish. Mind you, the dish will turn out fine without them, but unless you really hate anchovies, give ‘em a go.
I think you could use just about any kind of pasta with this dish, but try for something that provides a lot of surface area to which the breadcrumbs can adhere.
Some ingredients you could add that aren’t in this recipe include sautéed mushrooms, pepperoncini, Italian sausage or just a little Asiago cheese. But even if you just make the basic recipe, you’ll love it.
What you’ll need:
- 3-4T extra-virgin olive
- 0.75t crushed red pepper flakes—these give the dish a nice amount of heat. Use less if you’re concerned it will be too hot.
- 4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
- Salt (probably don’t need, if you’re using anchovies)
- 4-5 oil-packed anchovy fillets (optional, but these really made the dish to me, and I generally don’t like fish)
- 1.5 cups freshly-made coarse breadcrumbs, preferably made from ciabatta bread. Alternatively, I wonder if panko could work, too.
- Fresh parsley, chopped (I omitted this)
- 1 lb uncooked pasta, such as lasagnetta, spaghetti, or a fusilli spiral-type shape
What to do:
Start bringing a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat.
Add the oil to a fry pan over low-medium heat. Add the red pepper flakes, stirring until they begin to sizzle.
Add the anchovies, if using, and mash them up with the back of a spoon. They will dissolve into the oil, making an anchovy paste of a sort. NOTE: if your pan is too hot when you smoosh the anchovies, the water released from them will splash all over the place and make a significant mess. This happened to me, so be careful. It was like an anchovy bomb went off on the stove—and there were casualties.
When the anchovies have dissolved, turn up the heat a bit and mix in the breadcrumbs. Stir them around until they begin to get toasted a golden color, then add the garlic and continue stirring. Take off of the heat before the garlic begins to overcook. At this point you would add the parsley, if using, and mix it in.
Now start the pasta, cooking to al dente. It’s not going to further cook in a sauce, so ensure that it’s not undercooked. Reserve about a half-cup of the pasta water before you drain it—you may need it.
When the pasta is drained, return it to the pot over low heat and add half to two-thirds of the breadcrumbs and toss well. If the pasta is a little dry, gradually mix in a bit of the pasta water until it’s to the consistency you want.
Sprinkle the remaining breadcrumbs and parsley over the pasta before serving.