A Spicy Anchovy Substantial Spaghetti Recipe for a Happy Heart + Brain

Hello Substantial Living!

I know the first thing most of you are thinking is “anchovies..no way!”  Anchovies are small, salt water, foraging fish with more than 100 different species spread across the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans.  While I understand that anchovies do have a characteristic strong flavor and smell, if you chop them up and make an olive oil infusion sauce with garlic and red chili flakes, the strong flavor dampens!  Yes this is true.

I tried this Sicilian recipe on my mom (who is the queen of having aversions to most food like tartare, sushi, etc), and it was a great success!  The anchovy flavor is nothing like the usual what you experience in most mainstream recipes AND anchovies are great for your skin, heart, with lots of protein-which motivates me!  Check out 3 science benefits that caught my eye below:


  • Heart Health: Anchovies have been found to contain large amounts of polyunsaturated fats, which can reduce the presence of “bad” cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) that build up in the arteries and increase your chances of artherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes.
  • Brain Food:  Anchovies also contain supercharged omega-3 fatty acids that bolster communication among brain cells and help regulate neurotransmitters responsible for mental focus. YES!!
  • Skin Health: As mentioned, anchovies are a great sources for essential fatty acids, like omega-3 fatty acid, which is also known as “good cholesterol”, as well as for vitamin-E and minerals like selenium.   All of these nutrients have been shown to promote  healthy skin, which means that adding anchovies as a regular part of your diet can help you maintain a smooth complexion, prevent breakouts, and even reduce the chances of developing the wrinkles associated with premature aging.  Another YES!

Here’s how to make this simple, and super healthy recipe-perfect treat for high protein, if you’re body is craving carbs on these chilly (I can never say cold in San Francisco! ) winter nights.



  • 1/3 cup Japanese Panko Bread Crumbs
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves—1 lightly crushed, 3 thinly sliced
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 12 oil-packed anchovy fillets, drained and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino romano cheese


  1. In a small skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the crushed garlic and cook over moderately low heat until the oil is infused with garlic flavor, about 
10 minutes. Add the bread crumbs and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and crisp, 7 to 8 minutes. Season the bread crumbs with salt.
  2. Cook the spaghetti in a large pot of salted boiling water until almost al dente (you will cook it more later). Drain the spaghetti, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil. Add the anchovies and the sliced garlic and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the anchovies have dissolved and the garlic has softened, about 5 minutes. 
Stir in the crushed red pepper.
  4. Add the pasta, pecorino, 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water and the parsley to the skillet and toss until the pasta is 
well coated in the sauce (add more pasta water if it seems dry). Season with salt and black pepper. Serve the pasta in bowls, sprinkled with the bread crumbs.

Enjoy enjoy enjoy! I love the texture that the breadcrumbs add, with the right amount of red chili pepper flakes and pecorino romano, this is a great dish for most salt-loving humans who care about their heart-mind connection 🙂

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