Simplicity at Its Best: Spaghetti with Onion and Anchovy

Spurred by a flurry of hugely popular and entertaining TV cooking competition shows a few years ago, I fancied myself as a “could be” chef. Soon, however, I found myself watching too many TV cooking shows, jotting down and collecting hundreds of recipes and yet not doing much more than stewing and stir-frying in the kitchen.  One of the main reasons that I was unmotivated to try most of the recipes I amassed was the fact that every other published chef was trying to outdo one another. The trend was basically, the more ingredients (preferably those that one had to source from artisan shops or drive 3 hours to buy), gadgets and cooking methods that one could fit in one recipe, the more haute-cuisine-couture-worthy the result was. These kinds of recipes are definitely doable for chefs who have trained and worked for years, but not average home cooks like yours truly.

Spaghetti with Onion and Anchovy

Around the time that my foodie dream was making a slow and soft landing back to earth, I discovered Antonio Carluccio and his MOF MOF (Minimum of fuss, maximum of flavour) philosophy and others with similar philosophy. Antonio Carluccio’s giant spaghetti with onion and anchovy sauce recipe is one of my favourite recipes. It is a classic Venetian recipe which is very fast to make and very delicious to eat. Simplicity at its best, hands down.


Bigoli in Salsa di Cipolle & Acciughe (Giant Spaghetti with Onion and Anchovy Sauce)

A recipe by Antonio Carluccio published in Antonio Carluccio’s Simple Cooking (2009); slightly modified.

Serves 2

170g tubular spaghetti

Salt & black pepper


2 medium (300g) onions, peeled & finely chopped

3 tbsp olive oil

20g anchovy fillets in oil

Cook the spaghetti according to packet instructions. Drain & keep warm.

For the sauce, fry the onion in a pan with the olive oil until soft, about 6-7 minutes. Add anchovies, which will dissolve. Stir them very briefly. Mix the pasta into the sauce. Season the mixture with a little salt and plenty of pepper. Mix well and serve hot.


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