this is one of my top 3 favourite pasta of all time. which is a pretty heavy statement. cacio e pepe is definitely first. i still dream about the cacio e pepe i ate in 40 degree heat, on that quiet patio in rome we shared only with the cutie old men playing their cards and smoking cigarettes beside us. *sobs* it seems so long ago, but i can taste it as if it was yesterday. pasta aglio olio e alici is probably tied for second with ricotta ravioli, which is surprising considering i only realized i liked it two years ago.
before i decided i liked anchovies, nona would only make this on christmas eve and basically only she and my dad would eat it (now it’s a staple on the list of food requests when i visit home). over the years, i would try a small bite every christmas eve, but my silly young brain probably thought “ew anchovies”. i guess anchovies get a bad rap for being fishy, but when they’re packed in oil, they add umami and flavour! this pasta is oily and garlicky and salty and my favourite comfort food. this dish (same with cacio e pepe) is one of the ones that highlights why i love italian cuisine so much. it proves that it doesn’t take fancy, expensive ingredients or tons of time and effort to make something absolutely delicious and satisfying.
pasta aglio olio e alici
1 package spaghetti (i used bucatini because that’s what i had, but i would be ridiculed by purists)
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tin anchovies in oil
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon crushed red chilli flakes
fresh ground pepper
put on a pot of well salted water and bring to a rolling boil. meanwhile, heat the oil in a shallow pot over medium low and add garlic. cook garlic until it begins to turn fragrant, about 2 minutes, then add anchovies. cook over medium low, breaking up anchovies. add chilli flakes.
cook until anchovies are deeply caramelized. cook pasta until al dente, drain and add to oil and anchovy mixture. toss to coat and season with pepper to taste. divide among bowls and drizzle with any leftover oil.