Anchovy Pasta

This recipe comes from The Geometry of Pasta. It is known in France as pasta des anchois.  It’s quick, easy, yummy, and costs nothing to make. Anchovy pasta has become one of Tom’s weekday staples, and we thought we would tell you the best way to cook this salty treat.

Delicious anchovy pasta

The parsley goes on top so we don’t have to think about how gross the sauce looks.

Serves 2


1 large onion

2 tins anchovies (Sainsbury’s anchovies in olive oil are fine, but if you are really flashing your cash, splash (rhyme!) on John West anchovies in olive oil. Mr. West, for my money, makes the best damn anchovies money can buy!)

250ml white wine (Go for something dry and not too sweet.)

125ml water (tap water is fine, but if you’re feeling fancy, bottled will work too – just nothing with extra flavour – orange, other fruits, etc.- this will ruin the pasta – trust me!)

Enough spaghetti for 2 persons (whole wheat pasta tastes better with the sauce, nuttier and nutmeggy for some reason)


Chop the onion. I don’t know if I mentioned the way to chop and onion in a previous post, but here is the correct way to cut an onion, and all the other ways of doing it are just people ruining perfectly good onions. You chop it in half across the middle, so when you look at the chopped faces, you see a bunch of rings. Put both halves on the board face down, and make about three horizontal cuts most of the way through, but not all the way through in the same direction of the original cut. This means cutting the onion with the knife sideways. Then cut down, perpendicular to the previous cuts, about 1/4 inch apart from each other. Then turn the chopping board 90 degrees and, holding the onion to secure the sides so all the bits don’t splurge out,  make downward cuts perpendicular to those previous cuts. You will then find yourself staring at a pile of perfectly chopped onions. It seems complicated reading it (it was complicated writing it!), but trust me, do it this way once and you’ll never go back!

So throw all that onion in a frying pan and put it over a low heat. I have a gas hob and I put it on the lowest flame on the largest ring. Then open the tins of anchovies and drain the olive oil from them into the frying pan. Stir occasionally until the onions are translucent and soft, about 8 minutes. Then throw in the anchovies. They will just melt in the heat after a couple of minutes into a brownish goo, giving you some small insight into the fragility of life. Mush this goo into the onions and add the water and wine. Once this has started to boil (still on low low heat), put on the timer for 23 minutes. Then let it all chill out. During this time, I like to watch a little TV, some New Girl or something, just to pass the time, but you do what you want. Just let you be you!

When the timer goes off, put the pasta in some water with a pinch of salt and bring to the boil. The sauce should have boiled down to about a  quarter of its former glory. Stir the sauce constantly as the rest evaporates, and it begins to look a little dry. At this point, add about a quarter cup of the pasta water, to add a bit of moisture, and after 2 minutes, take it off the heat. This should be about the time the pasta has finished cooking. Drain the pasta and mix it in to the sauce. Split it between two bowls and rip some parsley over each.

A bowl of anchovy pasta

A beautiful helping of anchovy pasta.

That’s it, enjoy! And hold each other.

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4 thoughts on “Anchovy Pasta

  1. Nick says:

    I remember eating this at yours a bit ago. It was delish!
    I never thought of myself as an anchovy liker, but I am now thanks to you guys.
    Also, hand-making pasta is good fun times.

  2. towera says:

    I giggled a lot reading this, AND it looks yummy… 🙂

  3. Rawaan says:

    Made a version of this last night for dinner, but with sardines and soba noodles (one must work within the limitations of what one’s pantry can provide) and lemon zest — delicious! Thanks for the inspiration.

  4. Nick says:

    Just made it and it was amazington-ness

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