The individual ingredients in this dish are very simple but when put together, just so delicious. The flavor of the toasted fresh breadcrumbs is just so amazing and is what makes this dish, so be sure to toast to a very crunchy brown. I love anchovies but you don’t have to add, you really barely notice them, there is no fishy flavor at all, just more depth of flavor. To give a zing of flavor add fresh lemon zest instead of or along with the red pepper flakes. Some may want to sprinkle the finished dish with freshly grated parmesan, go for it!
1/2 cup best-quality extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
4 drained oil-packed anchovy fillets (optional)
1-1/2 cups coarse fresh breadcrumbs (with crust), preferably from a ciabatta loaf or french baguette-use a food processor to make the crumbs.
6 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3/4 lb. dried spaghetti, spaghettini, or linguine
1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat.
2. 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).
3. 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.