This recipe runs deep in my family, and has a really cool story to go along with it. My Nonno Dino produced the movie Le notti di Cabiria, directed by Federico Fellini, which won the Oscar for best foreign film in 1957.
On set, the crew invented this very pasta – and they dubbed it “Spaghetti Alla Cabiria”. Nonno Dino made this pasta sauce all the time, and the crew made it to celebrate all of the awards. I’m continuing the tradition and making it to celebrate Oscars night!
Spaghetti Alla Cabiria
- 8 ounces spaghetti, half a pound
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 yellow peppers, chopped into ½ inch pieces
- 1 clove of garlic, chopped small
- 1 cup tomato puree, or crushed tomatoes
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 anchovy filets, chopped fine
- 1 tablespoon capers, drained
- 1 cup mixed olives, pitted and chopped
- 1 sprig of fresh mint leaves
- 2 sprigs of fresh basil
- 2 tablespoons flat-leaf Italian parsley chopped
- Set a large skillet on the stove at medium-high heat. Add the 3 tablespoons of oil. Once the oil is hot, after a minute or two, add the yellow peppers to the pan. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until slightly browned and softened. Add in the garlic and stir for about 3 minutes until fragrant and very lightly toasted.
- Add the tomato sauce, salt, capers, olives, anchovies and 1 cup of water. Stir occasionally until the mixture reaches a boil, and turn the heat down to maintain a gentle simmer. Add the sprigs of mint, basil and chopped parsley. Cover the pan and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes, once the sauce has reduced by about half. Taste and add more salt, if necessary, and discard the mint and basil sprigs.
- 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.
- Once the pasta is cooked, add it to the pan with the tomato sauce. Toss to coat completely. Serve with extra herbs, if desired.