Monday, April 11, 2011

Spaghetti with Anchovy Carbonara

We just so happen to live a stone’s throw from our favorite “everyday” restaurant in Nashville, which can be dangerous but is also extremely convenient. However, their pizzas are so good that I rarely order anything else off of the menu. My pizza-ordering spree was broken one day over lunch when I tried their lunch special and also found it superb, so when Joe and I were looking to carbo-load for our half marathon, it was only natural to return to our neighborhood restaurant.

Joe ordered the spaghetti carbonara, and it arrived with that tempting creamy texture and loaded with pancetta. I wondered if I could concoct a carbonara sauce without resorting to a pig product, but mushrooms, usually a decent meat substitute, wouldn’t quite pack the salty umami punch that I wanted.


Then I found Chris Cosentino’s recipe for anchovy carbonara from Food & Wine. While he usually makes it with cured tuna heart (um, what?!), the at-home version calls for anchovies, something I’m a little more comfortable with. Even still, Joe was nervous about anchovies. The anchovies themselves dissolve in the olive oil so you never get a big bite of anchovy, just a nice salty, meaty flavor that goes so well with the lemon zest and parsley. This was a very quick dinner to put together with such simple ingredients but big flavor. Despite his nervousness about the anchovies, Joe quickly snatched up the leftovers to take with him to the hospital.


Spaghetti with Anchovy Carbonara
source: Food & Wine April 2011
Yield 4 servings


12 ounces spaghetti
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
One 2-ounce can flat anchovies, drained and chopped
Pinch of Aleppo pepper or crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon chopped oregano
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 large egg yolks
Salt and freshly ground pepper


  1. In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the spaghetti until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.
  2. In a large, deep skillet, heat the oil with the garlic and anchovies and cook over moderately high heat until the anchovies have dissolved, about 2 minutes. Add the red pepper, zest, oregano and parsley, then add the pasta and toss to coat. Remove from the heat.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the yolks with the reserved cooking water and add to the pasta. Cook over low heat, tossing until the pasta is coated in a creamy sauce, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper and serve.