September 24, 2023


Food Information

Anchovy Pasta Recipe from Naples – The Pasta Challenge

10 min read

Of all of the tremendous easy conventional Southern Italian pasta recipes I do know, this anchovy pasta recipe from Naples is among the finest! Recognized domestically as spaghetti alla Gennaro, this recipe holds a particular place within the hearts of the Neapolitans as a result of it’s named after town’s patron saint! Simple and easy to do, all you want is spaghetti, anchovies, garlic, stale bread, oregano, and basil to make this model of midnight pasta, also called Totò’s pasta.

Anchovy pasta from Naples (spaghetti alla Gennaro)

Spaghetti alla Gennaro.

The Southern Italians are masters at making simple pasta recipes with only a few native elements. Spaghetti with tomato sauce, aglio e olio, and puttanesca are some that come to thoughts! Spaghetti alla Gennaro falls in the identical class.

With a handful of staple elements, you possibly can have this conventional Neapolitan pasta dish on the desk very quickly. Nonetheless, this anchovy pasta recipe is greater than only a easy dish for the individuals of Naples.

Anchovy pasta from Naples (spaghetti alla Gennaro)

Firstly, this recipe is known as after town’s principal patron saint. In keeping with Wikipedia, St. Gennaro, also called Janarius I of Benevento, was bishop of Benevento and a martyr and saint of the Catholic Church. Yearly, the Neapolitans collect 3 instances in Naples Cathedral to witness the liquefaction of what’s mentioned to be the saint’s blood inside an ampoule!

Anchovy pasta from Naples (spaghetti alla Gennaro)

La ricetta di Totò ( Totò’s recipe).

I wasn’t in a position to uncover why Neapolitans named this anchovy pasta after their patron saint. Nonetheless, that is the dish that’s historically eaten in Naples on St Gennaro’s feast day, September nineteenth.

Curiously, this recipe can also be related to one of many metropolis’s most well-known sons; the actor, comic, screenwriter, singer and lyricist Totò. Totò, whose actual title was Antonio Griffo Focas Flavio Angelo Ducas Comneno Porfirogenito Gagliardi de Curtis di Bisanzio, is taken into account one of the good comedian actors of the 20th century.

Ingredients for spaghetti alla Gennaro on wood work surface
The first step Collect your elements; spaghetti, anchovies, garlic, basil, oregano, bread and olive oil.

Toto’s actress daughter Liliana de Curtis, who died earlier this yr, included the recipe for spaghetti alla Gennaro in her 2001 cookbook ‘Liver right here, liver there, fried liver and salt cod’, a group of recipes from her father’s kitchen.

Apparently, the actor was additionally a superb chef, who liked to prepare dinner the recipes that his mom had taught him, and which he had written down with notes, jokes and comedian and severe recommendation in a pocket book that’s the foundation of his daughter’s assortment.

Pieces of anchovies in white bowl, Bread cubes on white plate and dried oregano in small white bowl.
Step 2 Put together the elements.

Anchovy pasta alla Gennaro or spaghetti alla Gennaro is a dish talked about a variety of instances in a number of of Totò’s movies. For many Neapolitans, it’s THE recipe that involves thoughts after they consider his favorite pasta recipe. Actually, if you happen to search Italian websites for ‘Totò’s pasta’ the one search result’s this recipe, despite the fact that the ebook consists of different pasta dishes.

Homemade fried croutons in skillet.
Step 3 Fry the croutons in olive oil and garlic till golden and crispy. Take away from the pan and put aside.

Midnight pasta.

Other than being named after the Naples’ patron saint and related to the comic Totò, this spaghetti with anchovies can also be a favorite late evening ‘midnight’ pasta. Though outdoors of Italy aglio, olio e peperoncino (garlic, oil, and purple chilli spaghetti) is commonly labelled as THE midnight pasta, right here in Italy there isn’t actually one recipe.

Pieces of anchovies and peeled garlic cloves in skillet with olive oil.
Step 4 Warmth extra olive oil after which add the remainder of the garlic cloves and items of anchovy.

In contrast to in lots of western cultures, late evening starvation or munchies isn’t happy by ordering takeaway in Italy. When Italians discover themselves up late with associates or household feeling hungry and maybe slightly worse for put on after an excessive amount of vino somebody will most likely say ‘ce li facciamo due spaghetti?’, which means lets make some spaghetti?

Pieces of anchovies melting in olive oil in skillet.
Step 5 Stir the anchovy within the sizzling oil till it begins to soften.

For a lot of, midnight pasta is aglio olio e peperoncino however there’s no arduous and quick rule. My Sicilian hubby typically makes his extra like a puttanesca. He likes so as to add olives, anchovies, and typically dried tomatoes. Some individuals add totally different herbs like basil, oregano, rosemary and so on. Others want a canned tuna and tomato spaghetti or carbonara as their midnight meal. It’s all about what’s within the fridge or larder and what you’re feeling like!

Dried oregano in pan with anchovies and garlic.
Step 6 Add the dried oregano.

This spaghetti with anchovies all Gennaro is one other favorite selection for late evening pasta or simply when there’s a necessity for a fast lunch or supper. The one further work on this recipe is do-it-yourself croutons however since many Italians have ready-made croutons within the larder, making them your self isn’t crucial. You can too use toasted breadcrumbs.

What sorts of anchovies are finest in pasta?

Most Italians have anchovies within the larder or fridge. Nonetheless, in Italy, anchovies are known as both ‘alici’ or ‘acciughe’. The previous could be contemporary anchovies or these which were filleted and preserved in olive oil. The latter are these preserved in salt. However, they’re the identical kind of fish.

Spaghetti from pasta makers Di Martino in Gragnano.
Step 7 Cook dinner the pasta al dente in line with the directions on the packet.

On the subject of including anchovies to pasta the preferred sorts are anchovy fillets preserved in oil or these preserved in salt which have been completely rinsed to take away most the salt. My hubby likes the salted ones, I want these in oil.

The wonderful factor about Italian anchovy pasta is that the anchovies truly soften if you sauté them in olive oil together with the opposite essential elements like garlic and herbs.

Just cooked spaghetti added to skillet with anchovies, oregano and garlic.
Step 8 Drain the pasta and add it to the pan with the anchovies together with slightly pasta cooking water.

Italians have lengthy identified what cooks overseas have solely not too long ago found; anchovies don’t style fishy. When ‘melted’ in olive oil or a sauce they add a briny, savoury umami flavour to any dish they’re utilized in.

Are anchovies wholesome?

Anchovies are very nutritious and have many nutritional vitamins and minerals that present main well being advantages. They’re finest referred to as a supply of Omega-3 fatty acids and are loaded with protein. As well as, anchovies are a superb supply of calcium, selenium, niacin, vitamin B12, potassium and vitamin A!

Cooked spaghetti mixed with anchovies, garlic and oregano in skillet.
Step 9. Combine the spaghetti and anchovy sauce collectively properly.

For this spaghetti with anchovies, I used superb high quality anchovies from Cantabria. Even supposing you will get nice anchovies throughout Italy, these from Cantabrian Sea off the coast of Spain are thought of one of the best on the planet! And so they actually are so good. Nonetheless, you should use different sorts too, ideally these preserved in olive oil.

Different elements on this anchovy pasta from Naples.

As I discussed earlier than, spaghetti alla Gennaro is a straightforward dish made with a handful of elements. Other than the anchovies, all you want is garlic, olive oil, basil, oregano, stale bread to make the croutons or breadcrumbs and, after all the spaghetti. Some individuals additionally add peperoncino however I didn’t.

Fried bread croutons in skillet with spaghetti and anchovies.
Step 10. Add a few of the croutons to the anchovy pasta and blend collectively.

The pasta.

Spaghetti is the pasta of selection for this recipe, though I think about it may be made with linguine or vermicelli. The spaghetti I used was made by Di Martino one in every of my favorite pasta makers from Gragnano. The latter is a city close to Naples that’s well-known for pasta manufacturing. Actually, they’ve been producing dried pasta there for greater than 500 years.

spaghetti alla gennaro anchovy pasta from Naples in skillet ready to be served.
Lastly, add the remainder of the croutons and the contemporary basil to the anchovy pasta and serve instantly.

There are about 15 firms producing pasta with the Pasta di Gragnano IGP certification. IGP is an EU certification of origin that identifies a product made in a sure geographic space. Other than Di Martino; La Fabbrica della Pasta di Gragnano, Garofalo, Liguori, Gentile, Afeltra and Pastificio dei Campi are among the many Gragnano pastas I do know can be found outdoors of Italy.

Making spaghetti alla Gennaro.

It doesn’t take a lot time to have this anchovy pasta on the desk. So, step one is to place a pot of water on to boil for the pasta! Add salt as soon as it begins to boil and produce to the boil once more. Then you want to peel the garlic and reduce the anchovies into small items. Lastly wash and pat dry the basil.

Anchovy pasta from Naples (spaghetti alla Gennaro) in oval white plate with fork.

The following step is to make the croutons or toasted breadcrumbs. Rub the bread slices with a garlic clove after which reduce them into croutons or break into small items. You can too use a meals processor to show the bread into breadcrumbs. However, don’t mix them too wonderful.

Warmth some olive oil in a pan and fry the croutons or breadcrumbs till they’re barely brown. The breadcrumbs might be prepared quicker. Take away the bread and add some extra olive oil. As soon as this has heated add the remaining garlic cloves and anchovy items. Stir the anchovies till they soften into the oil.

Anchovy pasta from Naples (spaghetti alla Gennaro).

When the anchovies have melted, add the oregano and chilli pepper flakes (if utilizing). Cook dinner for a minute and take away from the warmth till the spaghetti is prepared. Cook dinner the spaghetti al dente, save slightly cooking water and drain it. If crucial, reheat the anchovies and oregano after which take away the garlic and add the spaghetti with slightly cooking water.

Lastly, combine the spaghetti to coat it within the sauce after which add some croutons or breadcrumbs. Combine once more and add the remaining croutons and a few contemporary basil items. Serve instantly while nonetheless sizzling.

Let me know what you suppose.

As you possibly can think about, this anchovy pasta will not be solely tremendous easy but additionally tremendous scrumptious. It’s an ideal quick weeknight recipe in addition to a late-night dish or midnight pasta if you happen to ever wish to feed sudden visitors or family and friends who got here for lunch and are nonetheless there at meal time!  

For those who give this recipe a strive, do let me know the way it seems, both by commenting under or on the Pasta Project Facebook web page. And if you happen to really feel it’s value sharing with associates please do.

All of your suggestions and help is far appreciated!

Buon Appetito!

anchovy pasta recipe from Naples

Anchovy pasta recipe from Naples (spaghetti alla Gennaro)


This anchovy pasta recipe from Naples (spaghetti alla Gennaro) is simple and easy to make. All you want is spaghetti, anchovies, garlic, stale bread, oregano,and basil to make this model of midnight pasta, also called Totò’s pasta.

Prep Time 5 minutes

Cook dinner Time 20 minutes

Course Important Course

Delicacies Italian, Mediterranean, Neapolitan, Southern Italian

Servings 4

Energy 549 kcal


  • 12.5 oz spaghetti (360g)
  • 6-8 anchovy fillets these preserved in oil.
  • 4 slices semi-stale bread The most effective is nation or farmhouse bread.
  • 2-5 garlic cloves peeled
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 5 tbsp further virgin olive oil.
  • contemporary basil leaves washed and dried.


Put together elements

  • Peel the garlic cloves and reduce 1 in half. Reduce the anchovy fillets into small items. wash and pat dry the basil leaves.

  • Put a pot of water onto boil for the spaghetti. Add salt as soon as it begins to boil and produce to the boil once more.

  • Rub the bread slices with the reduce garlic and reduce them into small cubes for croutons.

End and serve.

  • Cook dinner the spaghetti al dente in line with the directions on the packet. Save slightly pasta cooking water, drain the pasta and add it to the recent anchovy sauce with slightly pasta cooking water (2-3 tbsps). The sauce might should be reheated earlier than including the pasta.

  • Combine the spaghetti with the sauce after which add a few of the croutons. Combine once more after which add the remainder of the croutons and the contemporary basil torn or reduce into items. Serve instantly.


Spaghetti is the standard pasta for this recipe however linguine or vermicelli could possibly be used too.
Some Italians add peperoncino flakes to this recipe. For those who’d love to do the identical add them with the oregano.
You need to use breadcrumbs (do-it-yourself or retailer purchased) as a substitute of the croutons or ready-made croutons.

Key phrase anchovy pasta, midnight pasta, spaghetti with anchovies, Toto’s pasta

Different Italian ‘midnight pasta’ recipes to strive.

  1. Aglio, olio e peperoncino.
  2. Spaghetti alla puttanesca.
  3. Genuine Italian carbonara.
  4. Tuna carbonara.
  5. Pasta alla gricia.
  6. Tuna Bolognese

If you have an interest in studying the best way to make do-it-yourself pasta and various kinds of gnocchi, try my store web page for some nice video on-line programs from my associates in Rome! Nothing beats studying to make pasta from Italians! Plus whilst you’re there why not order a duplicate of one in every of my pasta recipe cookbooks or checkout some advisable pasta making instruments? They make nice prezzies for pasta lovers!

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