Joanna Blythman, in her brilliant book, What To Eat, reminded me of how very delicious this kind of simple pasta dish is. Yes, yes, yes I realise it would have been better with spaghetti, but I didn’t have any, so used the egg tagliatelle (more appropriate for a chunkier sauce) that was sitting in the fridge.
It’s a cliché, but with something so simple, the few ingredients have to be good. The sourdough breadcrumbs I had squirrelled away in the freezer really did work well, especially as I had only bothered to roughy blitz the bread and there were some larger bits – not sure whether white Sunblest would have delivered such a tasty result. This would be mighty fine with chopped parsley (as is traditional), but again, the cupboard was bare of the stuff and as the basil was staring at me, I chucked it into the pan in lieu of.
This is super, super quick and literally takes as long as it takes to cook the pasta. Which, if you dance with the devil and use fresh egg noodles, will take about 3 minutes.
Pasta with breadcrumbs, anchovies and basil
- 100g spaghetti
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
- anchovy fillets in oil, drained and chopped
- 3 generous tablespoons sourdough breadcrumbs
- 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- small handful of basil, roughly chopped, plus extra to serve
1. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and add the spaghetti. Stir well and leave to cook as per the packet instructions.
2. Meanwhile, gently heat the oil in a frying pan and before it gets too hot add the garlic and anchovies. Cook, stirring, until the anchovies melt down into the oil.
3. Toss in the breadcrumbs, increase the heat and cook, stirring until, golden and starting to go crunchy. Add the chilli flakes and lemon zest and cook for a few moments more. Remove from the heat and stir through the basil.
4. When the pasta is done, drain well, reserving a little of the cooking water. Return the frying pan to a medium heat and add the pasta, quickly tossing to coat well in the oily, garlicky juices. Add a little of the cooking water if you feel it’s a little dry and needs loosening.
5. Serve immediately – this has to be eaten hot – sprinkled with extra basil.