Anchovy Pasta with Parmesan Breadcrumbs

A bowl of spaghetti topped with white fish and red pepper flakes served alongside a tomato feta salad, glass of white wine and cycling book

Whatever happened to anchovies?  Once a popular pizza topping, if you dare to order anchovies on your pizza these days then you are shunned as some weirdo with dubious tastes.  After all, who puts fish on pizza?  Can’t say I blame the naysayers.  Just the sight of the little fish conjures up ideas of rank, salty fishiness and unappetizing greasy slickness punctuated by a tiny bone that always gets stuck just under the top of one of your front teeth…at least that’s how I would picture it.


A bowl of spaghetti tossed in breadcrumbs and anchovy sauce then topped with white fish and red pepper flakes


I’ll admit it.  At first I was one of the naivete who was scared of the small, oily fish.  But, my husband being British, there was now way to avoid it – or any other variety of tinned fish (he has quite the collection, one for every mood).  Despite my wariness, after one salty bite, all those prejudices were stricken from my mind and I was smitten.  For those in the know how, nothing adds the umami flavor to something dull like anchovies.   Now, not only do I now request them on my pizza but I’ll happily chop them up and add them to marinades and pasta dishes.


A bowl of spaghetti topped with white fish, a lemon wedge and red pepper flakes served alongside a tomato feta salad


Nowhere do I like anchovies more than in this pasta dish.  Minced garlic and anchovies slowly cooked in olive oil and tossed with added breadcrumbs to soak up the oil and provide a bit of texture.  Since I’m American and can’t help putting cheese on everything, I mixed the toasted breadcrumbs with a good portion of grated Parmesan cheese.  The end result is a rich and tasty pasta that is surprisingly easy to throw together.


That simplicity also helps to showcase the flavors of the ingredients that you are using – meaning that you can tweak it to suit your tastes without too much effort.  Add some lemon for tartness or sprinkle on the red chili flakes for spice.  I added additional protein in the form white fish like lemon sole or John Dory and cooked it in white wine to make it more of a meal but if that is not your jam, just omit.  Make it anyway you please but just don’t forget – you want anchovies on that!





A bowl of spaghetti topped with white fish and red pepper flakes served alongside a tomato feta salad, glass of white wine and cycling book

Anchovy Pasta with Fish

  • Author: Spicepaw
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 3-4 1x


White fish cooked in a white wine & anchovy garlic sauce served atop spaghetti that has been tossed in remaining sauce with Parmesan cheese & breadcrumbs. #fish #pasta #quickmeals #healthyrecipes



  • 9 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 56 anchovy fillets (minced)
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) white wines
  • 400 g uncooked spaghetti
  • 12 large boneless fillets of John Dory or lemon sole (about 300-500 g / 10-18 oz)
  • lemon wedges (for garnish)
  • red chili flakes (for garnish)


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/3 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese


  • In a non stick frying pan, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat.  Add breadcrumbs and toss in olive oil until everything is evenly coated.  Continue cooking until everything is lightly toasted.  Be watchful as it has a tendency to burn quickly.
  • Remove from heat and let cool.
  • When cool, add Parmesan cheese and mix until everything is evenly combined.  Set aside.
  • Meanwhile, in a large pot bring water to boil.  Add spaghetti and cook until al dente.  Drain and set aside.
  • In a large pan, combine minced garlic, minced anchovies and olive oil together.   Cook on low/medium low heat for 5-8 minutes until the garlic and anchovies have infused into the oil.  Be careful not to burn as minced garlic burns a lot quicker than sliced garlic.
  • Add white wine and turn heat to high.  Stir together and let bubble for a minute or two.
  • Add fish fillet(s) and spoon sauce over the top.  Cover and reduce heat to a consistent simmer (should be medium or low heat but this depends on individual stove top).
  • Cook fish for 3-5 minutes on each side.  The more you flip it, the more likely it will be to fall apart so try to only flip it once.
  • When fish is cooked, remove from pan and transfer to a plate.
  • Drain spaghetti and toss in remaining garlic/anchovy/white wine sauce.  Toss until everything is coated evenly in the sauce.
  • Finally, add cheesy breadcrumbs and toss until evenly combined.
  • Dish onto individual plates and top with fish.  Garnish with red chili flakes and a wedge of lemon.


Always make sure to salt your pasta water!  My recommendation is 1 tbsp of sea salt to every 2 liters of water.  It should taste like salty soup.  Always taste the water before adding uncooked pasta.

  • Category: Pasta, Fish
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: anchovy, garlic, white wine, fish, spaghetti, breadcrumbs, olive oil, pasta







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