Spaghetti with Bottarga

Spaghetti alla Bottarga

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


    as a main course

Appears in

It was late, and my wife, Lael, and I had just taken a six-hour ferry ride to Sardinia when we arrived at Gallura, Rita D’Enza’s restaurant and inn. We would have been perfectly happy to just go to our room and fall asleep, but Rita, a good friend of my parents, would have nothing of it. “You can’t go to bed on an empty stomach!” She ushered us into the dining room for “just a light supper, ” then set before us two plates of spaghetti with bottarga whose steamy fragrance magically wiped away fatigue as it enveloped us. Thus began a week of gastronomic bliss.

Bottarga (dried mullet roe described) is a delicacy that, when grated, makes a sublime pasta sauce. Some people sauté garlic and parsley in olive oil before tossing it and then add the bottarga, but I like this uncooked version best. This way, the rich flavor of bottarga comes through. When I tested this recipe at home, I held back some of the pasta without the sauce for our then three-year-old daughter, Gabriella, but she ignored us and went for the bowl with the bottarga, complaining, “You took too much! I want more.” She proceeded to polish off two servings.

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Preparation time: 5 minutes
Total time from start to finish: 25 minutes


  • Salt
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 4 ounces bottarga
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil


  1. Fill a pot for the pasta with at least 6 quarts water, place over high heat, and bring to a boil. Add about 2 tablespoons salt to the boiling water, put in the spaghetti, and stir until all the strands are submerged. Cook until al dente.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, grate the bottarga. When the pasta is done, drain it well and transfer to a serving bowl. Pour in the olive oil and toss. Add the bottarga and continue tossing until the pasta is well coated with the sauce. Season with salt if necessary (the bottarga may be salty enough already) and serve at once.