Pasta with Anchovies, Garlic, Lemon, and Breadcrumbs
For weeks during her first trimester, as our little Jude baked in utero, growing from the size of a blueberry to a Mission fig, Kristen ate only white foods.
Bagels with cream cheese. Yogurt drizzled with honey. Gallons of full-fat milk and crackers. Pasta dressed with olive oil and a dash of salt. No meat, no greens. She did allow for the occasional bit of brown to sneak in — whole-wheat sandwiches smeared with almond butter. And she had her chocolate, of course.
Morning sickness made meals a treacherous activity. Every time Kristen opened the fridge, it was like facing a firing squad of food aversions.
“It was horrible. Not. Fun.”
But I had to eat, too. As always, I wanted something deeply satisfying, even if it was plain pasta with olive oil. So I started making this dish with staples we had on hand. It’s a classic pantry raid. If your kitchen is decently stocked, you can pretty much make some version of this dish any night of the week.
The anchovies here melt into the oil, spiked with red pepper flakes and garlic. You get the saltiness combined with the aromatics. The toasted breadcrumbs give a nice mouthfeel, while the lemon sends off sparks of acid.
It’s super simple, yet ethereal. I think we ate this for three nights straight once. And we still eat it. When Kristen asks for “pregnancy pasta,” I know exactly what she means.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 5-6 anchovies
- 1 lemon, for zesting and juice
- 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, minced
- 1/2 pound thin pasta like spaghetti or linguine
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs, toasted
- Parmesan or pecorino cheese (optional)
Heat the oil in a large sauté pan slowly with the garlic and red pepper flakes, cooking over moderately low heat, about 1 minute. Don’t let the garlic burn (although I’m a fan of the bitter taste of burnt garlic, so I sometimes do).
Add the anchovies and let them dissolve in the pan, about another minute or 2. Zest the lemon over the pan and add the juice from ½ of the lemon. Toss in the parsley. Now you’ve got your magic sauce. This is incredible stuff!
Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the noodles until al dente. Using tongs, transfer the pasta to the pan and toss well to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with breadcrumbs and cheese, and serve immediately.