I have been told that in Sicily, you will rarely eat anything that is produced or grown more than a few miles from where you are sitting. They believe in local, fresh and simple food. Sardines caught fresh in the morning is soon found in a delicious lunch, grilled or cooked in their unofficial ‘national dish’ – Pasta con le Sarde (Pasta with Sardines).

Pasta c’anciova e muddica (Pasta with anchovies and breadcrumbs) is also a very Sicilian dish and it’s a new discovery for me. I’ve always wondered about having breadcrumbs in pasta – it’s like adding carbs to carbs! However, it’s a dish I will definitely be cooking again.

Fresh anchovies are very popular in the Mediterranean, very similar in taste to sardines. However they do not travel well and so almost all exports are cured, packed in salt or oil. Many people I know are not fond of these little flavour-packed fish but I love them! They are really great blended with butter and adds instant flavour to pasta, vegetables etc.

I saw this recipe online a while back and thought it sounded divine. It sat in my drafts folder for the longest time until I finally remembered that I have a few fillets of anchovies left which would be perfect for it.


Fresh hot spaghetti tossed in a delicious combination of melted anchovies, soft, sweet onions and garlic and topped with teeny, tiny toasted breadcrumbs and finished with an added sprinkle of extra virgin olive oil – speechless. So simple, so wonderfully tasty.


All the breadcrumbs, anchovies, chilli flakes and parsley cling on to every strand of spaghetti and so every mouthful is packed full of flavour. I love, love, love it.

Pasta c’anciova e muddica
Serves 2

* 160g spaghetti
* 8 anchovy filets, salted or brined
* 1 large garlic clove
* 1 small onion
* 25-30 g bread crumbs ( I used one slice of regular sandwich bread)
* some dried chilli pepper (to taste)
* chopped parsley
* a teaspoon of grated Sicilian pecorino (optional) (I used parmigiano reggiano)
* 3 tablespoons of good quality extra-virgin olive oil
* salt for the pasta

Coarsely chop the anchovies, slice the garlic and onion paper-thin and set aside.

While you bring the water for the pasta to a boil, heat the bread crumbs in a pan over a medium flame. Stir continuously till the bread crumbs become a nice tan colour. Remove the pan from the flame, pour half the oil into it and stir till all the bread crumbs are coated. Set aside.

When the water boils, salt it and add the spaghetti. While the spaghetti cooks, heat the remaining oil in a pan on a medium-high flame. Once hot, add the chopped anchovies and with a wooden spoon, mash them till they dissolve into the oil. Add the onion and garlic and let it cook till they just start to become golden, then add the chilli, reduce the heat and cook for another two minutes; set aside.

The pasta should be ready and al dente by now: drain it well and dress it with the anchovy-onion-garlic mixture. Add two thirds of the bread crumbs, the parsley and cheese (if using) and stir well. Serve with last sprinkle of the toasted bread crumbs and light drizzle of olive oil.

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Join the conversation! 10 Comments

  1. Looks simple and perfect! And of course, I always love your photographs.

    Reply
  2. This looks really delish. Will be trying this!

    Reply
  3. Over the past year I’ve done a blog about eating good food that I cook myself and so have tried an unusual dish or two. I’ve grown to appreciate the oft-reviled anchovy as well, but it adds awesome flavour to food.

    I recently tried a recipe for Sicilian Spaghetti and was so horribly disappointed. But I knew it could be good, so I went searching — and found you! Your photos are gorgeous, and I can’t wait to try this recipe again, done right this time. Just have to translate the amounts to North American system and I’m good to go. Or, maybe I’ll just get a new battery for my kitchen scale…

    Oh, and you make me determined to take a food photography course!

    Thanks!
    East Coast Gal

    Reply
    • Hi East Coast Gal, thanks for stopping by! Indeed do give the anchovy pasta another chance. I loved it and I’m sure you will too. The bread crumbs added to the dish, so do not leave that out. Hope you enjoy it!

      Reply
  4. Nothing beats the simple stuff. My husband won’t eat anchovies but you can be sure that the next time he goes out, I’ll be making this.

    Vivid photos, by the way. I am totally drooling.

    Reply
  5. On my way to shop for the ingredients for this lovely looking pasta dish. Yes, I agree the photographs are beautiful. My son is a photographer in Barbados. I have come to appreciate good work. I know this dish will not disappoint.

    Reply
  6. This is a family favorite of mine passed down a few generations.
    The Napoitan’e recipe doesn’t use onion, chili, or breadcrumbs, an
    interesting twist. I could sit down and eat a pounds of alle acciuga
    by myself (with a nice red wine), I love this dish. And it is so
    simple and fast to just throw together for a week-day meal
    or special occasion.

    Pictures are beautiful and make me hungry just looking at them.

    Reply
  7. Just made this, OMG probably some of the best pasta i have had, a good switch from the normal tomato sauce. i added some fresh basil to give it a little familiar taste, but still that anchovy was phenomenal! Cheap super easy to make and delicious.

    Reply
  8. […] 2. Sicilian Pasta with Anchovies – Agloi Olio with the addition of finely chopped anchovies which gives it an extra flavour kick – not fishy at all! The anchovies literally melt in the oil and is like the ultimate seasoning. On the table in just over 10 minutes if you use panko (chunky Japanese store bought bread crumbs) instead of DIY. Do not bother using the store bought breadcrumbs that are so finely ground it’s like sand! This recipe is by Droolfactor – get the recipe. […]

    Reply
  9. If you add Maraina sauce raisins Pignoli nuts now you have something really delicious.

    Reply

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About droolfactor

It's all about my gastronomical journeys, and sometimes an inedible thought or two. One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating. ~Luciano Pavarotti and William Wright, Pavarotti, My Own Story This is my personal journey where I devote my attention to eating, cooking, experimenting and taking chances. Anything I come across with a droolfactor worth sharing, it's here. I hope you'll enjoy this journey with me.

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Home attempts, Recipes, Rice, Noodles, Pasta, Seafood

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