This simple yet delicious dish exemplifies perfectly the concept of cucina povera (peasant cuisine).
It uses ingredients that are widely available in Puglia and very affordable: olives, olive oil, bread, anchovies, and red pepper. As is the case with many simple Puglian dishes, the whole is a great deal more impressive than the sum of its parts.
- 7 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- ¾ cup fresh breadcrumbs
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
- 6 salt-packed or oil-packed canned anchovies*
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 cup green olives, chopped
- 11 ounces bucatini
1. In a small pan over low heat, warm 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of the olive oil and add the breadcrumbs. Sauté the breadcrumbs until golden. Set aside.
2. In a larger pan over low heat, heat the remaining 6 tablespoons (90 mL) olive oil, the garlic, and the anchovies. As soon as the anchovies have dissolved into the oil and the garlic starts to change color, add the red pepper flakes and olives, toss to coat the olives with the olive oil, and cook for a couple of minutes for the flavors to blend.
3. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in salted water according to the package directions. When the pasta is al dente, drain it and add it to the olive mix. Toss to coat the pasta with the sauce. Sprinkle the pasta with the sautéed breadcrumbs and serve hot.
*It is better to use salt-packed anchovies, but they are a little harder to find. If you find them, use fewer, as they are bigger, and make sure to rinse off the salt before sautéing them.
Editor’s Note: This recipe is from “The Puglian Cookbook” written by Chicago author, Viktorija Todorovska. I made Bucatini with Olives for my family (including my 3 children and husband who hates anchovies) and they loved it. The key is that the anchovies melt into the sauce. Totally different taste then when they’re plopped on top of a pizza.
The rest of the recipes in this cookbook are equally easy and use simple ingredients to explore a different part of Italy.