Calabrian Anchovy Spaghetti, Anchovy pasta, parsley, chilli, garlic, breadcrumbs, what to do with stale bread, what to do with leftover bread, pasta, easy pasta, quick recipe, Italian cuisine, Italian cooking

Calabrian Anchovy Spaghetti

This Calabrian anchovy pasta made with lemon zest and bread crumbs is a simple recipe inspired by a dish that was cooked for me by a close friend when living in Reggio Calabria. At the toe of the Italian boot, the region’s cuisine is not celebrated in mainstream media and cookbooks as often as Tuscan or Sardinian cuisine. However, Calabrian cooking is abundant with fresh seafood in the coastal towns and hearty meat dishes as you move inland and into mountainous areas. Produce from the region includes Cipolle di Tropea or Tropean onions, famous for their tear drop shape and sweet flavour, wild caught swordfish, citrus fruits including the fragrant bergamotto, vibrant fichi d’India or prickly pears, hot chillis and much more.

Calabrian cooking is characterised by flavours of olives, capers, tomato, garlic and lots of hot chilli. Many of the traditional dishes are simple and originate from cucina povera or ‘poor cooking’ made by families in rural communities during times of hardship using home-grown ingredients. This pasta is full of flavour and can be made with capers stirred through as an addition. It was made for me using a whole grain pasta giving it a nutty flavour and chewy texture but can be made with regular spaghetti as well. 

To make the bread crumb I use leftovers of a nice organic loaf that I get from a local bakery. You could use a rye, wholemeal, sourdough, ciabatta, anything will do. After a day or two when the bread goes stale and dries out it’s the perfect way to avoid wastage. 

This pasta reminds me of lazy days spent with friends who welcomed us into their home as if we were family. 

Serves 4

500g spaghetti 
2 garlic cloves crushed
10-12 anchovy fillets
4 slices stale bread
1 lemon using juice & zest
1 generous drizzle olive oil
1 fresh chilli finely chopped
2 handfuls fresh parsley chopped


  1. Bring a pot of salted water to the boil. It should be salty like the ocean.

  2. Tear bread into small chunks and lightly toast in a pan on medium heat or in the oven under the grill setting. Once dry like croutons, blitz in a food processor for a few seconds until it becomes a coarse crumb. Set aside in a bowl for later.

  3. Once your water is boiled, add the pasta.

  4. On a low heat, add a few tablespoons of olive oil, garlic and chilli to a large pan. Once this becomes fragrant, add the anchovies and lemon zest.

  5. When the spaghetti still has about 2 minutes remaining cooking time, transfer the spaghetti straight from the boiling water to the pan containing the garlic mixture using a slotted spoon. This should transfer some of the pasta water with it. Turn the heat up and add a generous amount of olive oil and a cup of the pasta water. Keep stirring and tossing the pasta in the pan, allowing it to continue cooking. If the water evaporates and the pasta is still not ready, add more pasta water until it is al dente and coated in the sauce. 

  6. Once your pasta is perfectly cooked, toss through the parsley and add some extra olive oil if needed. Serve into bowls and top with a generous sprinkle of the bread crumb. 

Buon appetito!