Spaghetti alla Carrettiera (Spaghetti with Fried Bread Crumbs, Garlic, and Anchovies)

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Some pasta dishes can only be described as strange. Perhaps I should explain that a bit better. There was a time when, to me, pasta meant tomato sauce (as further proof, I almost called it “spaghetti sauce”). And the tomato sauce came in a can and got mixed with sautéed ground beef. Then I discovered alfredo sauce and had multiple choices for my pasta. But, I then went to Italy and realized that there were nearly an infinite number of choices of pasta sauces. This is still the strangest.

I’m probably one of the three people in the United States who likes anchovies. I think they can add a unique flavor to foods. However, I’m still a bit hesitant about any food that tastes primarily of anchovies. And that’s what makes this strange.

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I was hesitant to even post this recipe here but, when I thought about it, I rather liked Spaghetti alla Carretiera. It’s strange but then again so am I (as my wife will most certainly corroborate) and I consider my strangeness to be an endearing quality. It’s the same with the pasta.

Yes, it tastes primarily of anchovies. But it’s not objectionable (well, it was to Angela but that’s beside the point). It’s different but that’s why I like it not in spite of it.

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Spaghetti alla Carrettiera (Spaghetti with Fried Bread Crumbs, Garlic, and Anchovies)
Adapted from Trattoria Cooking: More than 200 authentic recipes from Italy’s family-style restaurants

3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp bread crumbs
1 large clove garlic, finely diced
1 salt-packed anchovy fillet
1/4 cup milk
pinch of red pepper flakes
salt and black pepper
1/2 lbs. spaghetti
1 tbsp finely diced fresh parsley

  1. De-bone the anchovy fillet and soak in the milk for 10 minutes. Discard the milk and dry the anchovy well. Chop the anchovy.
  2. Cook the pasta in boiling, salted water for 1 minute less than the directions. Drain the pasta and reserve at least 1 cup of cooking water.
  3. While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the bread crumbs and cook, stirring, for 5 to 10 seconds. Remove the skillet from the heat. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Add the anchovies, garlic, and red pepper flakes to the skillet and stir for 20 seconds.
  5. When the pasta is finished, add 1/2 cup of pasta water to the skillet. Add the spaghetti to the skillet and bring to the simmer. Cook for 1 minute until the sauce is thick and coating the pasta well.
  6. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the parsley.
  7. Serve immediately.

Serves 2.

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10 Responses to “Spaghetti alla Carrettiera (Spaghetti with Fried Bread Crumbs, Garlic, and Anchovies)”


  1. 1 Marlyn April 29, 2008 at 10:34 am

    I’m with Angela on this one.

  2. 2 michelle April 30, 2008 at 7:45 am

    anchovies – i don’t like to see ‘em in my food, but i do love the flavor they add.

    i’ll never turn down a good meat sauce, but simple dishes like this one and pasta cacio e pepe will always be my favorites.

  3. 3 PaniniKathy April 30, 2008 at 8:46 am

    I’m one of the other two anchovy fans! This sounds like it will have wonderful flavor and texture – looking forward to giving it a try!

  4. 4 Eat Me Outta Here April 30, 2008 at 10:44 am

    Oh my god! I LOVE anchovies! Love it love it love it! You, PaniniKathy and I make three! I usually just make a simple pasta with anchovies, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and parmesan reggiano. Look I love it so much I blogged about it too! http://eatmeouttahere.blogspot.com/2007/09/craving-anchovies.html
    I usually keep jars of it at home incase I get a craving! I’m going to try your recipe soon!

  5. 5 Will April 30, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    I’m the third, and final, anchovy fan in the good ol’ US of A, and this dish looks delicious! Throw in some capers and olives and you’ve got Putanesca, my favorite!

  6. 6 Matt April 30, 2008 at 9:59 pm

    Actually, I was thinking of you Will when I said three: I could claim myself, I knew you liked them, and I figured there was someone else out there who might like them.

    I think I’ll have to skip out on the Putanesca. I still don’t like olives.

  7. 7 Adele May 2, 2008 at 9:08 pm

    I love anchovies, and this pasta sounds like just my kind of dish. I don’t suppose you know which region this one comes from?

  8. 8 Matt May 3, 2008 at 7:52 am

    I do actually. It hails from Avellino about 40 miles south of Naples.

  9. 9 chefjp May 5, 2008 at 4:40 am

    I enjoyed this dish a great deal— thanks!

  10. 10 Matt May 5, 2008 at 7:21 am

    I’m glad you liked it. It’s not something I’d recommend to everyone given the strong anchovy flavor but some of us do like it.


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