Adapted, barely, from David Tanis
David Tanis advises to use salt-packed anchovies and capers, but I’ve found that there are some oil-cured anchovies out there that taste delicious as well. Whatever you use, make sure it’s something you like the taste of. While the ingredients are few here, it’s particularly important to have the best ingredients you can find. There’s nothing to hide behind. Sometimes, Andrew and I splurge and buy fancy-pants dry pasta. My favorite is buccatini – they look like thick spaghetti with a tiny hole in the middle, like a straw of sorts. Pastas that are made in Graniano, Italy are considered to be particularly high quality. And while it sounds crazy, the taste of these pastas is by far so much better than their store-bought cousins, that every once in awhile, it’s totally worth the splurge. Having said that, for this recipe, I typically use anchovy packed in oil and my capers are nothing to write home about. Still, what emerges is so delicious, Andrew and I fight for the tiny bits of the “sauce” that remains. I say it serves 4, but I think if you’re like us, then probably 3.
1 pound spaghetti
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 fat garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
8 anchovy filets, rinsed (if applicable) and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed (if applicable) and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/4 cup chopped parsley, optional
Parmigiano-Reggiano for grating, optional
1. Put the spaghetti in a large pot of well-salted rapidly boiling water set over high heat, and cook only until firmly al dente. (The cooking time will vary depending on what brand of pasta you are using, so check frequently for doneness.)
2. While the pasta is cooking, warm the olive oil in a small skillet set over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute, without letting it brown. Stir in the anchovies, capers, and red pepper flakes and cook for a half-minute more. Turn off the heat.
3. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Pour in the garlic-anchovy-caper mixture, add the parsley, if using, and toss well to combine. Serve with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano if desired – I like a heap of cheese on top of my pasta.