Spaghetti with Simple Anchovy Sauce

IMG_9664Have you ever looked at a recipe and not followed it to the letter? That’s what happened to me today when I made a simple spaghetti sauce that called for a 28 oz. can of whole tomatoes. The only pantry tomatoes I had were quarts of whole tomatoes that I canned last year so I subbed in those.

It also called for pureeing tomatoes in the blender, but there was no way I wanted to fool with that. So I just smooshed them with a potato masher right in the pan. How did the spaghetti sauce turn out? Really good, and really easy.  My kind of cooking!

Spaghetti with simple tomato anchovy sauce

Don’t turn your nose up at the thought of anchovies. Truth be told, they’re the “secret” ingredient in more than a few dishes. Used in moderation, anchovies never make a food taste fishy. They mellow when cooked, adding depth of flavor.  If you’re still not convinced, add less and go from there. 


12 oz. spaghetti or other pasta

28 oz. whole canned tomatoes

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 to 1/2 cup diced onion

2 teaspoons garlic, minced or to taste  (a couple nice cloves)

1-2 teaspoons anchovy paste

Palmful chopped basil or 1 teaspoon dried

Salt and pepper 

Parmesan cheese


Put pasta on to cook and while it’s cooking, make sauce. By the time the pasta is cooked, sauce will be just about done, too.

Heat oil in pan and add onions. Put garlic on top (garlic burns easily so putting it on top insulates it.)

Cook until onions start to get soft, add tomatoes and anchovy paste. Smoosh tomatoes well with potato masher. 

Bring to boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook about 15 minutes. 

Stir in basil and season to taste.

Toss sauce with pasta and give it a shower of cheese.

Tip: whole anchovies vs paste

These salty tiny fish are packed whole in tins or jars.

In paste form, they’re packed in tubes.

It takes about 5 whole anchovies to equal 1 tablespoon paste. 

Paste is more concentrated. 

Subbing diced/crushed tomatoes

If that’s all you have, go for it. I will tell you, though, whole tomatoes, in my opinion, taste and look better than most diced/crushed.

How to measure spaghetti before cooking

For spaghetti, a 1-1/2” diameter bundle is 8 oz. 

3 thoughts on “Spaghetti with Simple Anchovy Sauce

  1. I never grow enough tomatoes to do more than eat them fresh, so….I am a fan of ‘Red Gold Tomatoes’ in the can. They have a lot of flavor —they are grown in Ohio–where my mom always said the best tomatoes grow. In the dead of winter, their diced tomatoes, drained, make better taco topping than those pastel tomatoes from the grocery. I use them in all my tomato sauces, usually combining crushed and diced.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.