Savoring Traditions: Spaghetti Reinvented with Toasted Breadcrumbs & Anchovies

Who can resist the allure of spaghetti reinvented with toasted breadcrumbs & anchovies, a dish that encapsulates the very essence of Italy? It’s an experience that effortlessly marries the nostalgic, dolce vita charm with an unexpected twist of glamour. Imagine a delightful feast from your grandmother’s kitchen, where the matriarch, ever the fashionista, never serves her culinary masterpiece before ensuring she’s at her dazzling best.

Tracing the Roots of Toasted Breadcrumbs on Pasta

Historically, toasted breadcrumbs emerged as a thrifty replacement that replicated the mouthfeel and taste of grated cheese during lean times.

In today’s world, where grated parmesan is readily available, the decision to crown your pasta with a scattering of crunchy, oil-kissed breadcrumbs adds a delightful touch of opulence. Perhaps it’s the unexpected nature of this addition, the careful crumbling and browning of breadcrumbs, that injects an extra layer of charm.

Embracing a Potent Combination of Robust Flavors

What other ingredients does this breadcrumb pasta demand? The answer is anchovies. My iteration of this recipe involves an entire tin of anchovies, oil included, which still fell short of my father’s preference.

This pasta finds its perfect match in the accompaniment of tangy capers, a generous serving of garlic, a hint of crushed red pepper flakes, lemon zest, and a handful of Parmigiano dusted on top.

Let’s just say this pasta variant was devoured quickly, making me perform my joyful food dance (which involves swaying on my dining chair, eyes blissfully closed, when a dish exceeds my expectations).

There’s truly no greater joy than igniting this kind of spaghetti-induced delight in your loved ones. Try it out, and it might just earn a regular spot in your meal plan.


  • 2 cups breadcrumbs (homemade is highly recommended!)
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (180ml, divided into ½ cup + ¼ cup or 120 ml +60 ml)
  • 1 pound thin spaghetti or angel hair pasta (450g)
  • 1 head of garlic (minced)
  • 2 oz. anchovies (adjust according to preference)
  • ½ cup capers (coarsely chopped, reduce quantity if increasing anchovies to prevent over-salting)
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper (adjust to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes (adjust to taste)
  • 1 cup fresh parsley (finely chopped)
  • Zest of one whole lemon
  • Grated parmesan cheese (to serve)


  1. Begin with some stale bread and process it into coarse breadcrumbs until you have a measure of 2 cups.
  2. Next, in a skillet, heat 1/2 cup of olive oil over medium-low heat. Mix in the breadcrumbs and allow them to lightly toast under careful monitoring. Aim for a deep toasting that delivers a satisfying crunch. Once done, set aside.
  3. Simultaneously, boil the pasta in salted water until al dente, according to the package instructions.
  4. In another pan, heat ¼ cup of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add in the minced garlic and allow it to caramelize. Next, introduce a can of anchovies along with their oil, breaking them down with a wooden spoon until you achieve a rough paste.
  5. Stir in ½ cup of capers and cook for a minute. Add the drained pasta to this mix, followed by black pepper, red chili flakes, parsley, and lemon zest. (For a spicier version, add the chili flakes to the oil before incorporating the pasta to let it infuse the oil.) Toss the pasta thoroughly, and then quickly mix in the toasted breadcrumbs.
  6. Serve promptly, topped with a sprinkle of grated parmesan cheese.

A meal as delicious as this spaghetti with toasted breadcrumbs and anchovies brings along numerous health benefits. Anchovies are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to promote heart health. The capers bring a good dose of antioxidants, while garlic is celebrated for its anti-inflammatory properties. Breadcrumbs add a dose of dietary fiber, and choosing whole-grain bread would further elevate the dish’s nutritional profile. This pasta dish isn’t just a feast for the senses but also a wellness-packed addition to your menu!

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