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!
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:
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
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!