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  • Writer's picturePasta Grammar

Pasta c'Anciova | Sicilian Anchovy Pasta Recipe

This pasta dish was invented by Sicilian migrants in Milan, using Sicilian ingredients with a long shelf life which they could take with them from home: anchovies and tomato paste!

Pasta c'Anciova | Sicilian Anchovy Pasta Recipe

Ideally, anchovies stored under salt are preferred, but feel free to use anchovies under oil if it’s all you can find (you may require more salt than is reflected below to compensate). The dish is topped with toasted breadcrumbs which were historically an economical alternative to Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Watch the Pasta Grammar video where we make this recipe here:

Serves 2.

For this recipe, you will need:

  • 1/8 cup (20g) raisins

  • 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • 1/4 white onion, diced

  • 4 anchovies, cleaned and de-boned

  • 6 tbsp (100g) tomato paste

  • 3/4 cup (175ml) water

  • 2 tbsp (10g) pine nuts

  • Salt

  • Fresh black pepper

  • 5.5 oz. (155g) mafalde or bucatini pasta

  • 1/4 cup (40g) breadcrumbs

Submerge the raisins in water so they can soak. Put a large pot of water on to boil. While it comes up to temperature, prepare the sauce.

In a pan, bring 3 tbsp olive oil up to medium temperature. Add the diced onion and sautè for 2-3 minutes, or until tender and slightly transparent.

Lower the heat and add the anchovies. Cook, stirring frequently, until the fish have dissolved in the oil. Stir in the tomato paste and water. Bring to a simmer.

Drain the raisins and squeeze out the excess water. Add these and the pine nuts into the sauce. Taste the sauce before seasoning with pepper and, if needed, a little salt. It should already be quite salty so it’s unlikely to require more. Simmer for about 10 minutes while you cook the pasta. Feel free to turn off the heat and let it rest if the pasta requires more time.

When the water comes to a rolling boil, salt it moderately and add the pasta. Cook as directed or until “al dente” to your taste.

While the pasta boils, add 2 tbsp olive oil into a skillet and bring up to medium temperature. Add the breadcrumbs and toast, stirring almost constantly, until they are toasted and lightly browned. Set aside for later.

Use tongs to transfer the cooked pasta into the sauce. Stir all together over medium/high heat until the pasta is completely coated. If the sauce seems a little too thick, thin it with 1-2 spoonfuls of pasta water.

Serve immediately and top with the toasted breadcrumbs. Buon appetito!

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Sep 15, 2023

Made this last night using canned, whole anchovies under olive oil, not the salty flat fillets, it was amazing.


Dec 27, 2021

Terrific! This has become my new favorite everyday pasta. I use bucatini, because that's what I usually have.


Suzanne Brunier
Suzanne Brunier
Oct 29, 2021

I loooove this recipe ! Thank you, Eva ! Umami is the right word Harper used to describe it. I made them with Bucatini as it was all I had, otherwise I respect your recipe 100 %. Greetings from France !


Tish Geftos
Tish Geftos
Oct 11, 2021

Eva - I’m looking so forward to making this! What brand of anchovies do you use? I bought some anchovies in Italy in 2019 and haven’t been able to find any as good here in the U.S. since then. Thanks!

Tish Geftos


Matt Riggle
Matt Riggle
Oct 10, 2021

Made it last night. Absolutely delicious! Don't be afraid of the anchovies. They dissolve into savory goodness. The pine nuts add to the creaminess of the sauce and the raisins add a hint of sweetness.

Super easy and quick to make. Thank you, Eva!

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