icon Spaghetti alla Calabrese

Calabria is the southern-most part of the Italian Peninsula, the tip of "the boot", across the Messina Strait from Sicily. This is rural country and the cuisine reflects that. Don't look for sophisticated haute cuisine here. Nevertheless, there are some really good, simple down-to-earth recipes that originated here: Spaghetti aglio olio e peperoncino, Penne all'arrabbiata, etc. The cuisine is a typical southern Italian Mediterranean mix of pork, lamb and goat, vegetables (especially eggplant), and seafood. Pasta is the main staple in Calabria. What makes Calabrian cuisine special is the tradition of preservation of the food, mainly because of climate and crop failures. As a result, there is a tradition of packing vegetables and meats in olive oil, making sausages and cold cuts and curing fish i.e. sardines. This is a classic Calabrian first course. It is another simple and quick, yet tasty dish, that can make a good first course or a late night snack with friends.


  • 1 lb dry spaghetti or bucatini
  • 6 fillets of fresh anchovies, chopped (use fresh sardines if anchovies are not available)
  • 1 cup large black olives, pitted and sliced
  • 1/2 cup capers
  • 1 cup stale wholemeal bread, in crumbs or toasted lightly as cubes
  • 1.5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • Lots of freshly ground black pepper


  1. Wash the anchovies with running water. Chop into pieces. Heat half of the oil and the fish in a sauté pan. Cook for a minute or two, add the black olives and capers and cook for a few minutes.
  2. Cook the pasta al dente in lightly salted water.
  3. In another sauté pan or frying pan, heat the remaining oil and toast the bread lightly until it turns a golden color.
  4. Drain the pasta. Place it in a large bowl and pour over it first the oil and bread mixture, then the fish sauce. Add heaps of ground pepper and mix well.
  5. Divide among 4 bowls and serve.
  6. YIELD: Serves 4.

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Last updated: October 12, 2010