Spaghetti with Caramelized Onions, Anchovies and Toasted Bread Crumbs

onions garlic and parsley

This is a great recipe that adds a bit more complexity to the great spaghetti all’aglio, olio  e peperoncino, which is spaghetti tossed in oil flavored with garlic and hot pepper. A pasta that college students in Italy eat all of the time, also great as a late night “snack” after a night out drinking. Of course my college days are long over, and late drunken nights are over now in my condition, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the simplicity of an old standby.

onions aglio, olio, peperoncinobread crumbs onions, anchovies & garlic

The caramelized onions add a wonderful sweetness, though with the garlic and the anchovies that are also involved I don’t recommend this to my single friends, unless the late night snack is shared with friends. As delicious as it is, there is a guarantee of some serious breath after feasting on it. It’s a good thing my husband and I love each other and after 3 years of marriage have reached that level of comfort, though we reached that before we tied the knot.


Spaghetti with Caramelized Onions, Anchovies and Toasted Bread Crumbs from Mario Batali’s Molto Italiano

  • ¼ cup plus 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large Spanish onions, cut lengthwise in half and then into ¼-inch-thick half-moons
  • 5 salt-packed anchovies, filleted and rinsed
  • ½ cup milk
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 lb spaghetti
  • ½ cup roughly chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 cup toasted bread crumbs

In a 10- to 12-inch sauté pan, combine 3 tbsp of the olive oil and the onions and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very soft and golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Set aside.

Meanwhile, bring 6 quarts of water to boil in a large pot, and add 2 tbsp salt. Soak the anchovies in the milk for 10 minutes.

In another 10- to 12-inch sauté pan, heat the remaining ¼ cup olive oil over medium-high heat until smoking. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until the red pepper flakes are lightly toasted, about 30 seconds. Drain the anchovies, toss them into the pan, and cook, stirring, until they have broken down, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the cooked onions and lower the heat to a simmer.

Drop the spaghetti into the boiling water and cook until just al dente.

Drain the pasta and toss into the pan with the anchovy mixture. Add the parsley and stir to coat. Pour into a warmed serving bowl, sprinkle with bread crumbs, and serve.


One Year Ago: Roasted Ricciola on a Bed of Fennel

~ by italicious on October 17, 2009.

5 Responses to “Spaghetti with Caramelized Onions, Anchovies and Toasted Bread Crumbs”

  1. Oops! Sorry, there it is right in front of these old eyes. Sometimes I use buttermilk to soak my fish depending on the recipe. Paricularly with deep water salt water fish.

  2. I have only seen a few recipes that soak fish in milk, this one and another from Pellegrino Artusi.
    The recipe does say to soak the anchovies, in the 2nd paragraph of the recipe. Grated aged cheese would also be nice, we have Mario Batali to thank for this great recipe, glad I could share.

  3. No, not unexpected at all. I often soak my fish in milk to remove the game taste but, unless I missed it, I didn’t see what you wanted to do with the milk in the directions. As an addition, I would add a 1/4 cup of Romano or Parmesan to this dish and toss before serving.
    This is an excellent recipe!

  4. Yes, to soak the anchovies and remove some of the saltiness, an unexpected ingredient no doubt.

  5. I assume the milk is to soak the anchovies not to mix into the recipe.

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