This is a twist on spaghetti aglio e olio, a traditional Italian pasta dish featuring garlic, olive oil, and chile. The fresh breadcrumbs soak up the spicy oil and garlic in a most delicious way. Be sure to brown the breadcrumbs well, or they’ll be soggy in the finished dish. Ciabatta breadcrumbs are best for this dish, but you can use any mild-flavored bread; leave the crusts on for the best texture. The anchovies are optional, but they bring complexity to the dish without making it taste overtly fishy.
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat.
Meanwhile, heat the oil and red pepper flakes in a 12-inch skillet over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spatula, until the pepper flakes are sizzling, about 5 minutes. Add the anchovies, if using, and mash them with the spatula until they begin to dissolve. Raise the heat to medium, add the breadcrumbs, and cook, stirring often, until the crumbs are deep golden, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until the breadcrumbs are crisp and brown, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat, stir in the parsley, and season with salt to taste (if using anchovies, you may not need extra salt).
Cook the pasta in the boiling water according to package directions until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water and drain the pasta. Immediately return the pasta to the pot over medium-low heat, add half the breadcrumb mixture and toss to combine. If necessary, add some of the reserved cooking water to moisten. Season to taste with salt. Serve sprinkled with the remaining breadcrumbs.
nutrition information (per serving):
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Photo: Scott Phillips