Savory Pantry Pasta

Active time: 20 min. Total time: 25 min.
Yield: Serves 4 (serving size: about 1 1/2 cups pasta, about 3 Tbsp. garlic breadcrumbs) 

Need to use up the food sitting in the back of your pantry? Cacio e Pepe meets Sardinian anchovy pasta in this simple dish that’s almost entirely made from pantry ingredients. The combination of saltiness, crunch, and creaminess makes this pasta the ultimate comfort food. A standard tin of anchovies should be all you need here. We like using bucatini here because the holes in the noodles help absorb the oily, savory sauce. The key here is to melt the cheese completely before adding more pasta water—if the temperature isn’t regulated, the sauce won’t bind like it’s supposed to. Serve as a quick, yet impressive meal, or as a side along steak or pork chops.

Ingredients

  • 1(16-oz.) pkg. long pasta (such as linguine, spaghetti, or bucatini)
  • 1/3cup, plus 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2garlic cloves, minced (about 1 Tbsp.)
  • 3/4 cup panko (Japanese-style breadcrumbs)
  • 6 to 8anchovy fillets packed in oil, drained
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated on a Microplane grater (about 1 cup)

How to Make It

Step 1

Cook pasta in a large pot according to package directions; drain, reserving 2 cups cooking water. Return pasta to pot. Set cooking water aside.

Step 2

While pasta cooks, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium. Add garlic and panko, and cook, stirring occasionally, until panko is golden brown and toasted, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer garlic mixture to a bowl, and set aside. (No need to wipe out skillet.)

Step 3

Add anchovies and pepper to skillet, and cook over medium, stirring constantly, until anchovies have melted, about 1 minute. Add remaining 1/3 cup oil, and cook, stirring often, 1 minute to infuse oil. 

Step 4

Add anchovy oil to pot with pasta over medium-high; stir in 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking water. Add 1/4 cup of the cheese, and cook, stirring often, until cheese is completely melted and incorporated. Continue cooking, stirring in 1/4 cup of the cooking water and alternating with 1/4 cup of the cheese, making sure cheese is melted and incorporated before adding more water, and ending with remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Remove pot from heat, and stir in remaining cooking water. (You are looking for a sauce that clings to the noodles with some of the sauce still pooling in the pot.) Sprinkle garlic breadcrumbs over pasta, and serve. 

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