Spaghetti with Shrimp, Anchovies and Breadcrumbs – A Batali experiment


I keep reading about pasta with breadcrumbs, and I don’t know why really, but it totally appeals to my inner carb-loading monster. Of course, thumbing through Gourmet Magazine a month or two ago I see a recipe like this and it’s been in the back of my mind as something to try out, but today I got onto Epicurious at work and couldn’t find a suitable recipe. So I popped over to and grabbed this little gem from Mario Batali: and thought I would give it a try.

I didn’t follow it to the letter (doh!), so here is the recipe, in steps, with my little changes, in a quantity that would serve 2 or 3 people. I’ll be honest and say this wasn’t what I had 100% hoped for, I think it needs a little work on the flavor. I am posting it here in the hopes people might have comments on how to adjust it:

Caramelized Onions:

1 Large Onion, cut into chunks

3 tablepoons olive oil

tiny pinch of salt

This part I followed to the letter except I only used 1 onion. I cut the onion into chunks and sauteed it on medium low heat in the olive oil until it was nice and brown, stirring often. Remove from heat and set aside.


1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs

1 clove garlic, sliced really thin

1/4 cup diced pancetta

1 tablespoon olive oil

This was my own improv here. The Batali recipe calls for 1 cup of toasted plain breadcrumbs – way way too much for just a couple servings. I saw pancetta in the store and said HELLO! and so I decided to add some extra flavor by sauteing the garlic and pancetta in the olive oil until they start to brown, add the breadcrumbs and toast until medium brown (maybe 5 minutes), stirring on occasion so nothing burns. Remove and set aside.

Rest of the Sauce

1 tin of Anchovies

1/4 cup white wine

4 cloves garlic, sliced really thin

1/2 lemon

1/2 pound of peeled cleaned shrimp

1 handful chopped fresh parsley

generous pinch of red pepper flakes

4-5 tablespoons of olive oil

Once your pasta water starts to boil and you add your pasta, you are ready to start the sauce. Turn the heat under your sauce pan to high. Add olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes. Stir often until garlic just starts to get brown. This will happen very quickly. Add Anchovies and stir for 1 minute. Add shrimp, wine and juice from 1/2 lemon. Saute until shrimp start to turn light pink. Add caramelized onions to the pan and the parsley. At this point your pasta should be about cooked – we used spaghetti. Add pasta straight from the water into the sauce and stir to coat. Divide pasta among your bowls and sprinkle with breadcrumb mix. Be careful not to use too much (I did!) – a light coating is probably about right – and you may want to add a few spoonfuls of the pasta water to the bowl to make sure the sauce isn’t too dry.


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