In Italian cooking, anchovies are extremely common. They don’t add so much of a “fishy” taste as much as a salty, umami punch of flavor. For that, I always keep anchovy paste, oil or filets on hand to give pasta dishes like this a boost of flavor.
This is a great pasta that I consider a “pantry pasta” – you can use virtually any greens you have on hand, whether it be arugula, baby kale, or the called-for spinach. It’s the kind of dish I almost always have everything on hand to throw together.
I love the kick of heat that the red pepper flakes give this dish, but if you’re not partial to spice, start with a smaller amount.
Garlic Anchovy Pasta
- 1 pound short pasta, such as Fiorentini, Strozzapreti or Farfalle
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon anchovy paste or 4-6 anchovy filets diced small, such as Armatore
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 3 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 5 cups baby spinach leaves about 6 ounces
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water.
- In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat 1/4 cup of the extra-virgin oil over medium heat. Add the anchovy paste, red pepper flakes and garlic. Cook until aromatic, 2 minutes. Add the spinach and 3/4 teaspoon salt, and cook until wilted, about 3 minutes. Add the breadcrumbs and cook until lightly toasted, 2 to 3 minutes.
- In a large serving bowl, toss together the breadcrumb mixture, cooked pasta and half of the cheese. Add in the reserved pasta water, if needed, to loosen the pasta. Drizzle with the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil and sprinkle with the remaining cheese, and serve.