serves: 6 servings
With its generous amounts of anchovies, capers, peperoncino flakes, garlic and tomato, I can honestly tell you that this is the kind of pasta I love to eat. The flavors are strong and sharp yet balanced-staccato notes in harmony, to use a musical metaphor. In the recipe, I've given a range of amounts for the bold ingredients. If you use the lesser measures of anchovies, capers, peperoncino and garlic you will enjoy a distinctive dish suited for most people's tastes, what I call "middle of the road" at my restaurants. If you use the greater measure, you'll have the same dish I make for myself at home. Incidentally, you don't need to use perfect summer tomatoes for this sauce. Even in winter, decent market tomatoes will work as long as they're not too soft. If none are available, you can make a fine sauce without tomato at all (just don't substitute canned tomatoes.) You'll need more pasta water for moisture, but otherwise follow the recipe.
Like all sauces, this one goes with many pastas. In addition to thin varieties like capellini, presented here, I suggest linguine, spaghettini, or just regular spaghetti.
For the Sauce
1 pound fresh tomatoes, medium size
⅓ cup anchovy fillets
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
⅓ cup garlic, sliced
½ teaspoon dried peperoncino, plue more to taste
½ cup capers, drained
For the Pasta and Finishing
1 tablespoon kosher salt, for the pasta cooking water
1 pound thin capellini, or other thin dry pasta
½ cup Italian parsley, chopped
½ cup bread crumbs, toasted
Start heating 6 quarts of water, with the tablespoon kosher salt, in the pasta pot. Rinse the tomatoes, cut out the cores and slice them in half. Squeeze each half over a sieve set in a bowl, forcing out the seeds and juice; clean reluctant seeds out of the halves with your finger. Scrape the seeds against the sieve to extract any remaining juice. Dice the tomatoes into 1/2-inch pieces-you should have about 1-1/2 cups total-and put them in the bowl with the strained juice. Cut the anchovies (whatever amount suits you) into 1-inch lengths. Prep and measure the remaining ingredients (vary capers, peperoncino or even garlic amounts to taste) and have them handy to the stove.
When the pasta is almost done-still a little hard to the touch and bite-lift it out of the pot with tongs or a spider. Let excess water drip off only for an instant and drop the wet pasta into the simmering sauce.
Ladle in another cup of pasta water, raise the heat slightly and start tossing pasta and sauce together.
Sprinkle on the parsley, toss it in, and cook, still tossing almost continuously, for 2 to 3 minutes, until the capellini is perfectly al dente and coated with sauce. If the pasta appears dry, ladle in more hot pasta water. If the pasta appears soupy, cook rapidly to thicken the sauce.
As soon as it is finished, put portions of pasta into the individual warm bowls.
Sprinkle approximately 1 tablespoon of toasted bread crumbs over each serving-most of it on top and some around the edges of the bowl.
Serve immediately in individual warm bowls.