spaghetti c’anciova

This recipe is so simple it belies its deliciousness. Everything in it is store cupboard and I’ve been making it for years because my friends think it’s the best spaghetti they have ever had, including in Italy, which is high praise indeed. It’s my dinner party staple but equally works as a quick supper for two.


serves 2 hungry people or multiply the ingredients for more people 


1 x 50g tin of anchovy fillets in olive oil

2-3 cloves of garlic sliced into thin slivers 

2 tbs of good olive oil 

A quarter or a half of a red chilli finely sliced (depending on how much heat you prefer) 

250g of dried spaghetti 

A big grinding of black pepper (no salt needed) 

A big block of parmesan


Firstly put a big pan of salted water on to boil and cook the spaghetti according to the instructions on the packet. 

Meanwhile put the olive oil, the tin of anchovies (with the oil they are in) into a large heavy frying pan on a medium heat, add the garlic slivers and chilli, then smush the anchovies a bit with a wooden spoon until they have melted into the oil and cook gently until the garlic and chilli has infused their flavours into the sauce, but don’t let the garlic go brown. I smush the garlic a bit too.

When the spaghetti is cooked, instead of draining it in a sieve, lift it out of the water with tongs, let it drip a little bit and place it straight into the frying pan. Add a big grinding of pepper and stir through on a gentle heat till the spaghetti is evenly coated in the anchovy sauce.

Serve with massive gratings of parmesan. (I put the parmesan on the table with a fine grater so everyone can do this themselves)

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