breadcrumb spaghetti sauce

This recipe was so simple that I never bothered to write it down that night that emanuela prepared it for us in Ponza. And of course subsequently forgot it. Apparently it is actually a traditional recipe from some region of Italy including Rome, since tonnino volunteered during dinner that the classic recipe also has olives, later confirmed by emanuela's mom (both romans) during a later telephone consultation used to try a out a new cheap US long distance company offering 15 cents-per-minute calls to Italy, with no hidden extra charges (a bargain at the time). Since emanuela carries a cell phone (like most Italians at the turn of the millennium), getting ahold of her to re-explain the recipe was a pretty sure thing. And by luck her mom was visiting at the time to remind her about the olives and other details, which after a long day of island boat rental business at the beach were a bit frazzled in her mind. (Italian moms, what would we do without them?)

Simplicity is the beauty of a lot of Italian cuisine. And this one is terrifically simple. So simple that asking about the approximate amounts of each ingredient slipped my mind when recording them. All of the amounts given below are, as they say in the cookbooks, "to taste", and since they represent wild guesses can be adjusted for personal preference. emanuela used 6 anchovies but this did not overload my anti-anchovies-on-pizza attitude. This is the only detail that stuck in my mind. Looking to our cooking library for some guidance produced a somewhat similar recipe "spaghetti con le acciughe" (anchovies) by the American diplomat wives team in Rome who produced a pasta/risotto cookbook from their stay there together. In fact "breadcrumb spaghetti sauce" is not exactly orthodox naming procedure here, but explicit anchovies up front might put off others like me who are not exactly in love with these little fish.


group 1
1/c c olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced or chopped
2 T capers
6 anchovies, mashed up beyond recognition
1/3 c olives, chopped
group 2
1/3 c breadcrumbs
group 3
1 lb spaghetti


  1. Start the pasta water and dump in the spaghetti with some salt when boiling.
  2. Saute the first ingredient group in a large chef's pan to infuse the mixture with the garlic.
  3. In a separate saucepan, brown the breadcrumbs.
  4. When the spaghetti are very al dente, drain and dump into the large chef's pan and mix in the breadcrumbs like parmesan cheese. Toss around a bit over the heat.
  5. Reserve some pasta water in the draining phase in case the mixture is too dry, in which case you can loosen it up by judiciously adding just enough of the liquid before serving.


  1. Eliana, any suggestions, since emanuela is not wired? [This unplugged state did not last long ...]
brdcrmpa.htm: 8-aug-2001 [what, ME cook? 1984 dr bob enterprises]