This is one of those recipes that is so much more than the sum of its parts, and once tried you’ll keep coming back to it. In Italy a simple pasta dish like this would be served with a sprinkling of seasoned fried breadcrumbs, but some bread on the side works just as well.
320 g dried spaghetti
50-g can anchovies in olive oil
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Finely grated zest and freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon
A few sprigs of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
A pinch of chilli flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Rustic bread, to serve
Start by cooking the spaghetti in a pan of lightly salted boiling water following the package instructions; for al dente it’s usually about 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, open the can of anchovies and tip the whole can (including the olive oil) into a medium-hot pan along with the extra virgin olive oil and the garlic. Cook gently, prodding occasionally, until the anchovies have dissolved and the garlic is aromatic (but not burnt). Squeeze in the lemon juice and add the chopped parsley and stir to incorporate. Remove from the heat until the pasta is cooked.
Once the pasta is done, use a pair of tongs to pull the pasta from the saucepan into the anchovy pan, allowing some of the salted cooking water to go in with it. Turn the heat on and pull the spaghetti up and down in the pan to absorb all those lovely flavours and to help emulsify the oils with the starch of the cooking liquid. Season with freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of chilli flakes and finish with a few grates of lemon zest. Serve with rustic bread on the side.