Spicy Anchovy Pasta with Broccoli

Do you like anchovies?

When I was younger my mom would always order pizza with anchovies, and I used to hate it, but since then learned to like it. It was only during the last few years that my tastebuds were opened to the wonderful, salty world of anchovies. Sure, I like it on pizza, and yes of course, I love Caesar salads. But my favorite way to eat anchovies now is with pasta.

Now I really, really, really like anchovies.

Usually I make some version of pasta aglio olio – with olive oil, garlic, and anchovies that melt into the oil.  Recently I remembered a couple of recipes that I bookmarked from The Amateur Gourmet (one of the very first food blogs I followed, and still one of my favorites) and decided to make my own Spicy Anchovy Pasta with Broccoli.

There are two things that are different about this recipe: the first is adding the garlic and anchovies after cooking the broccoli (usually, anchovies are broken up and melted into the cooking oil). The second is adding a splash of cold olive oil right before serving.

The original recipes called for fennel seeds and capers. I didn’t have either so I ignored those.

Spicy Anchovy Pasta with Broccoli

1/2 lb whole wheat pasta (I like fusilli)
4 cups broccoli
1 tin anchovies
8 garlic cloves, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (adjust to your liking. I used a little bit more)
salt and pepper to taste
shaved Parmesan cheese, for finishing

Cook pasta according to package directions. Before draining the pasta, make sure to reserve 1/4 cup pasta cooking water.

While pasta is cooking, prepare your bowl of deliciousness: chop up the garlic and anchovies, and combine in a small bowl with the red pepper flakes.

In a large pan, heat two tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the broccoli and leave for a few minutes until it gets a little crispy and brown. The secret to caramelizing broccoli is to not move it around so much. So just let the florets hang out and toss just a couple of times. Season with salt and pepper.

When the broccoli is done cooking, add half of the garlic and anchovy mix. Just half. Stir for about 30 seconds to a minute (this is where you’ll see the anchovies melting) then add some of the reserved pasta water. Continue cooking everything together for a couple more minutes, then add the cooked pasta to the pan.

Now add the remaining half of the garlic and anchovy mix, and toss to make sure it’s distributed evenly. Yes, you will have raw garlic and anchovies. No, it’s not gross.

all the flavors come from this bowl

Take the pan off the heat and add a splash of olive oil. Toss some more, put a heaping serving on a plate, top with shaved Parmesan cheese, and enjoy.

welcome to the spicy salty world of anchovy pasta

If you are wary about adding the chopped garlic and anchovies at the end, you can add the whole bowl after the broccoli cooks, before adding the pasta to the pan. But as I already mentioned, I really like anchovies, and doing the two-step process really intensifies the spicy anchovy flavor.

What’s your favorite way to eat anchovies?


19 Responses to “Spicy Anchovy Pasta with Broccoli”

  1. #
    Lesley Lifting Life posted March 8, 2011 at 9:41 am

    I don’t think I like anchovies but I must admit … it’s been quite a long time since I’ve tried them so maybe one of these days I’ll get brave and give them another shot ; )

  2. #
    Emily @ A Cambridge Story posted March 8, 2011 at 10:03 am

    Now this is something I’d never think to make on my own but it really looks great. I don’t like anchovies that you can tell are in there but I love the saltiness they provide when muddled with other ingredients.

  3. #
    Daisy posted March 8, 2011 at 10:21 am

    I had an anchovy flatbread at Noir Bar that came with capers! I’d love to try it in pasta!

  4. #
    Justin @ JustinCanCook posted March 8, 2011 at 10:58 am

    Looks great. I always have a few anchovies left over from recipes. This would be a good way to use them.

  5. #
    Michelle posted March 8, 2011 at 11:25 am

    We seem to be on the same wavelength again about blogging topics. I adore anchovies and love them in a freshly prepared Caesar salad!

  6. #
    MelissaNibbles posted March 8, 2011 at 11:55 am

    I love anchovies. Definitely going t make this. Thanks!

  7. #
    MichellePC posted March 8, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    I’ve never been a huge anchovie person, but I’m always willing to give them a try – especially in new (to me) dishes like this. Thanks for the recipe!

  8. #
    Elizabeth posted March 8, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    Even though I don’t eat meat or fish, I do admit to having eaten a puttanesca sauce made with anchovies. The flavor was wonderful.

  9. #
    Heather posted March 8, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    To be honest I’ve never tried them! I think I would probably like them though bc I love thingsike capers and olives.

  10. #
    Susan (Oliepants) posted March 8, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    I love anchovies. I have to say my favorite way is in pizza. I have to order it separately because of my husband but just lay it on top of the pizza. It has a wonderful flavor!

    I wonder if your dish would work with sardines as I do have that in my pantry right now.

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted March 8, 2011 at 6:02 pm

      Hmmm the sardines would probably not “melt” but if you like sardines (I love ’em too), I bet it would be a tasty replacement in this recipe! Let me know if you make it and how it turns out :)

  11. #
    justcooknyc posted March 9, 2011 at 12:29 am

    one of my go-to recipes is made with broccoli and anchovies, but you mash up the broccoli while it’s cooking… i guess it’s hard to explain in a comment, but it’s really tasty.

  12. #
    jon @ sweet giraffe posted March 9, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    i never liked anchovies growing up too, so i’ve sort of avoided it my whole life! Maybe one day i’ll have the courage to try it again :)

  13. #
    Maria @ Scandifoodie posted March 9, 2011 at 8:39 pm

    This sounds delicious, I should definitely use more anchovies in my dishes :-)

  14. #
    Kulsum at JourneyKitchen posted March 10, 2011 at 2:12 am

    I have a hate and love relationship with anchovies. I’m really choosy about where I like it and generally don’t take the risk of adding them to my recipes without thorough experimentation. May be next time Ishould try adding it to my pasta? I guess so!

  15. #
    fooddreamer posted March 10, 2011 at 7:33 am

    I really should try anchovies again. I haven’t in years, I have that lingering dislike from childhood. But I’ve come to love so many things that kids don’t like, I need to see if my 38-year old tastebuds would feel differently!

  16. #
    Simply Life posted March 12, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    I really need to get over my fear – I think it’s the one food I just have a hard time trying!

  17. #
    Amanda L. (Tales from a Kitchen Misfit) posted March 14, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    I love anchovies as well! I had a great pasta dish at a restaurant in DC that had anchovies on it!


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