Spaghetti with garlic, anchovies and chilli

May 8, 2017
Family Verdict:


  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, slivered
  • 6-8 anchovy fillets in olive oil, roughly chopped
  • 1 good pinch red pepper flakes
  • 4 ounces good-quality spaghetti
  1. Bring a pot of salty water to boil. Cook the pasta until al dente, reserving some pasta cooking water.
  2. In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and chili and cook until the garlic is fragrant and soft, 1-2 minutes. Try not to brown it
  3. Add the anchovy fillets and mash them into the olive oil until they melt. Continue cooking until the garlic is quite soft and just beginning to turn golden, but not yet brown. 
  4. Add the pasta to the pan and toss to coat in the sauce. Add a little pasta cooking water and continue stirring to create a sauce with the olive oil. Serve immediately.


This is for me one of the most basic and tasty of all pasta dishes. It is quick can be made from ingredients in the larder (if it is properly stocked...) and is as tasty as the 10 tastiest things you can think of. It is packed full of that Umami savouriness and a bit of chilli as an aftertaste. It leaves your lips slathered in olive oil and you feeling that all is well with the world. As you can see I am a fan and this is a go-to recipe if I am on my own at all.

It is quick, simple and delicious - everything you want.

My older children will like this too (I didn't offer them any as I was cooking just for myself on this occasion) although the mention of anchovies tends to set a few heckles rising. However the anchovies melt into the sauce and are not identifiable as such just leaving their signature salt and sweet flavours.

This can also be the basis for adding all sorts of other things to a sauce as well. If you have some broccoli you can par boil it and add to the finished sauce to bulk it out a bit and give you some of your five-a-day if you feel in need. If you have never had this, you have missed one of life's treats. If you have - you dont really need a recipe but this will serve as a reminder to go and cook it this evening - which is what is going through my mind right now....

The quantity below is for 1 greedy or 2 modest people. Because of the simplicity of the recipe, the quality of ingredients is paramount as they are what you taste. Sounds obvious, but people forget.

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