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Fiery Spaghetti with Anchovies, Olives, and Capers in a Quick Tomato Sauce Recipe-2517

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Un Saporito Piatto di Fuoco

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.

Yield: Serves 6


  • 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


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

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.


“It is not elegant to twirl your spaghetti on a spoon.”


© 2005 Wanda Tornabene and Giovanna Tornabene

Nutritional Information

Nutrients per serving (% daily value)

Nutritional information is based on 1/8 teaspoon added salt per serving and 1 teaspoon Parmesan cheese per serving.

565kcal (28%)
598mg (25%)
30g (46%)
4g (22%)
6mg (2%)
70mcg RAE (2%)
26mg (44%)
67mg (7%)
4mg (20%)

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