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Fiery Spaghetti with Anchovies, Olives, and Capers in a Quick Tomato Sauce

Updated June 30, 2016
This image courtesy of Shutterstock

Editor's Note: You can eat like a Sicilian with this fabulous spaghetti recipe that incorporates classic ingredients including anchovies, black olives and peppers. These are the staples found in Italy, which now can be found in your own kitchen. This dish also includes a specific type of capers, the ones packed in salt, to achieve the proper flavor the dish needs to succeed. If you decide to use a different type of caper or somehow wash off the salt from this particular type, you risk losing the appropriate flavor that makes the dish soar among your taste buds. 

The meeting of anchovies, black olives, and peppers is a classic of the Sicilian kitchen. We always use capers packed in salt. If you rinse them, you can get rid of the salt and you’re left with the taste of the capers. With the capers in vinegar, even if you rinse them, you’re left with the taste of the vinegar.

Serves6

CostInexpensive

Easy

Total Timeunder 1 hour

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together

Recipe CourseMain Course

MealDinner

Taste and TextureHot & Spicy, Salty, Sharp

Type of DishDry Pasta

Ingredients

  • One 16-ounce can peeled whole tomatoes, drained in a colander
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for the pasta water
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 8 anchovy fillets in oil
  • 2 tablespoons capers in salt, rinsed and minced
  • 3 tablespoons black olives, pitted and chopped
  • One 2-inch hot red pepper, halved and seeds removed
  • Salt
  • ½ cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

If you are using canned whole tomatoes, pour them in a colander placed in the sink to drain for at least 15 minutes.

Warm the olive oil with the smashed garlic cloves in a large frying pan over low heat and sauté the garlic for a few minutes until it is very aromatic and light golden. Add the anchovies, smash them with the back of a fork, and sauté until the anchovy pieces have dissolved. Add the capers, olives, and the halved hot pepper and sauté for a few minutes, until the pepper is soft.

Squish the tomatoes between your fingers directly into the frying pan. Add salt to taste and cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes, until all the ingredients are integrated and very thick. You may need to add a little water if the mixture starts to stick to the pan. Stir in the parsley, taste again for salt, and turn off the heat until you’re ready to toss the condimento with the pasta.

In the meantime, bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Stir in a small fistful of salt and a splash of oil. Add the spaghetti and stir to prevent it from sticking together. Boil until the spaghetti is al dente. Lift the spaghetti out of the pot, reserving the pasta water, and place in the frying pan with the condimento. Toss the spaghetti with the condimento and a small ladleful of hot pasta water over high heat for 2 minutes, adding more hot pasta water if the spaghetti is dry or sticky. Transfer the spaghetti to a pasta bowl and serve immediately with grated Parmesan cheese.

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