Pasta with Anchovy and Garlic Sauce and Toasted Breadcrumbs

In this pasta dish the anchovies add a wonderful flavour and the crunchy breadcrumbs a contrasting texture. This miraculous way of transforming anchovy fillets into a smooth cream can also be used as a base for many sauces and in dishes such as meat casseroles, or to transform the juices of chicken or meat.

Ingredients

  • 4 large cloves garlic
  • 75 ml/3 fl oz water
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 150 g/5 oz fresh breadcrumbs
  • 50 g/2 oz tin anchovies
  • 350 g/12 oz pasta such as spaghetti or tagliatelle
  • large handful fresh flat-leafed parsley
  • sea salt
  • black pepper

Method

Put 3 unpeeled garlic cloves into a small saucepan with the water, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the garlic feels completely soft within its skin. Remove from the heat and leave on one side. Peel the remaining clove of garlic and chop very finely.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan over a low heat. Add the chopped garlic and the breadcrumbs and stir until the breadcrumbs are a rich golden brown. Turn the mixture into a bowl and leave on one side.

Empty the anchovies and their oil into a bowl set over a pan of very hot water, but not over the heat. Add the remaining olive oil and stir the mixture constantly with a wooden spoon until the anchovies dissolve into a smooth, brown cream.

Pop the boiled cloves of garlic out of their skins (reserving the water in the pan) and into the anchovy mixture. Stir again thoroughly until the garlic breaks up and becomes amalgamated into the smooth anchovy cream. Then stir in the reserved garlic water a little at a time and season with salt if necessary and plenty of black pepper.

Leave the sauce on one side, still over the pan of hot water. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Meanwhile, chop the parsley fairly roughly. When the pasta is ready, drain it but leave it in the saucepan. Using a large wooden spoon, mix the anchovy sauce, parsley and toasted breadcrumbs into the pasta. Transfer to a warmed bowl and serve immediately.

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