Pantry Pasta With Anchovies, Olives & Capers

August  7, 2018
18 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 10 minutes
  • Serves 3
Author Notes

When I don’t want to cook, I cook pasta. Specifically, this pasta, with my favorite ingredients. We used spaghetti here—a shoutout to traditional aglio e olio—but use whatever you have around, be it curly cavatappi or whole-wheat penne. If it’s smothered with anchovies and olive oil, it’ll be (kisses fingertips) great. —Emma Laperruque

Test Kitchen Notes

Featured in: The Pantry Pasta Formula for No-Time-to-Cook Nights —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 bunch parsley leaves, chopped (about 1 3/4 cups)
  • 1/2 cup chopped oil-cured olives
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 (2-ounce) tin anchovies, drained of oil and minced into oblivion
  • 3 tablespoons drained capers, roughly chopped
  • 2 big garlic cloves (or 3 small), peeled and minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 12 ounces spaghetti
  • 2/3 cup grated parmesan (or pecorino)
  1. Set a big pot of water on the stove over high heat to come to a boil. When it does, add the salt.
  2. Meanwhile, make the sauce. Combine the parsley, olives, olive oil, anchovies, capers, garlic, and red pepper flakes in a big bowl.
  3. When the water is boiling, add the pasta. Cook until al dente (I like to start tasting noodles after 8 minutes). Use tongs to transfer the pasta to the bowl with the sauce. Toss. Season with salt to taste (you probably won’t need it, but always good to check).
  4. Serve with the cheese alongside for everyone to sprinkle on top.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • panania
  • Nancy
  • Rey Compañeros
    Rey Compañeros
  • Rosalind Paaswell
    Rosalind Paaswell
  • Diane Karpinski Horner
    Diane Karpinski Horner
Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.

21 Reviews

panania June 4, 2021
This was really great! It was absolutely delicious. The best part is the only thing you cook is the pasta; the rest just gets tossed in like a salad. Unfortunately, my wife isn't found of olives, so I may have to make some adaptations in the future, but I will!
highfiberhabit January 30, 2020
I made this last night and it was INCREDIBLE! I was out of olives so did without (didn't miss them but I do love olives and will be sure to have some on hand next time). I sauteed the garlic, anchovies, and capers in an olive oil/butter combo (because I ran out of olive oil) and finished with the juice & zest of 1 lemon + the parsley. Topped with the red pepper flakes and parmesan and my husband added oil packed tuna to his. This was the first time I've cooked with anchovies and I'm totally sold and will be searching out new ways to use them in my cooking. And will definitely be making this pasta again and again and again!
Gennarose April 3, 2021
I modified very similarly except I had the olives! (Read: lemon juice and some butter, plus sauteed the sauce and added water before mixing with pasta). DELICIOUS!
Nancy January 20, 2019
Great go to for angel hair pasta. I confess to not using anchovies (had none), but sardines. Also squeezed on some fresh lemon before adding on the cheese; others enjoyed it with just the parmesan. Simple yet packed with flavor. Will certainly try it again, but with the anchovies!
Rey C. November 26, 2018
Excellent recipe. I make it often.
Emma L. November 26, 2018
Thanks, Rey!
Rosalind P. August 16, 2018
ALL of these make me want to get up and put some water on to boil so I can be slurping pasta in a few minutes. Here's another suggestion: Italian tuna in a jar, swimming in olive oil, plain, or seasoned with lemon, or garlic. It's expensive compared to canned tuna, but think of it as a flavoring. it goes a long way. An Italian friend taught me that tuna was often preserved this way, sort of a "tuna confit" and was NOT considered inferior to fresh tuna; just different. Our canned tuna, in soybean oil or water, is only a distant relative of THAT tuna. just toss it, in its oil, with the parsley, some lemon (no cheese please)...

amazinc August 16, 2018
My favorite pasta dish...spaghetti paired with a fresh sauce of a couple of chopped roma tomatoes, some minced garlic, a handful of rinsed capers, a chopped anchovy or a sprinkling of cooked pancetta and a good glug of olive oil. Cook the pasta, heat the sauce (?) and mix everything together with a few slivers of lemon peel. Slide the whole thing onto a place, top with a dusting of grated parm and you have Italy in a bowl. Too good, so now I'm off to the kitchen to prepare........
Emma L. August 16, 2018
Mm! I want that now, too!
Cindy August 12, 2018
Add canned tuna and some chopped sun-dried tomatoes or cut up cherry tomatoes if you have them.
Emma L. August 12, 2018
Yum! Looove the idea of adding canned tuna.
Eric C. September 24, 2018
Did it this way tonight and it was really great.
Diane K. August 12, 2018
This looks delish - if you have some ambition (I usually don"t), heat oil, 4 cloves minced garlic, 2 tins of anchovies (they disintegrate, no need to mince) & 28 oz can drained diced tomatoes, then capers, olives, parsley. I've been using Barilla Bucatini which is spaghetti with ridges to hold the sauce.
also - keep some drained tomato juice in case sauce is too thick
Emma L. August 12, 2018
Thanks for this fun adaptation, Diane! Bucatini would be so good here.
GerryO August 9, 2018
Try garlic and anchovies cooked in olive oil until the anchovies breakdown into specks. Toast pine nuts in the oil mixture, add a few pepper flakes and pour over your pasta. Top with toasted bread crumbs or grated cheese
Emma L. August 10, 2018
Mm! I'd never turn down a pine nut.
Dan C. August 9, 2018
Emma L. August 10, 2018
Yeah! My mom used to make puttanesca a lot when I was growing up, so I think that's when I learned to love these ingredients :)
FrugalCat August 8, 2018
You can use any kind of olives for this. I have made it successfully with kalamata olives, plain black canned sliced olives, salad olives and fancy green olives from the olive bar. I've also made it with anchovy paste (thought I had a tin of anchovies at home, realized halfway into it I did not). Whatever you use, stay hydrated!
Emma L. August 8, 2018
Ha yes, lots of salty ingredients!
Diane K. August 12, 2018
Best hint I had about olives - give them a rough chop or your sauce will look muddy