Spaghetti with Caramelised Onions and Anchovy Breadcrumbs


A rich and creamy weeknight pasta full of sweet caramelised onions and topped with a salty crunchy anchovy breadcrumb.



Serves 4-6 depending on how big you like your pasta portions!

As this pasta uses a lot of pasta water for the sauce, salt your pasta water accordingly. Don’t make it too salty – it should be palatable.

Take your time caramelising the onions. They will take a good hour to get as dark and sticky as you need them.

I used sourdough for the breadcrumbs, but any loaf of nice crusty bread will do the job!



3 large white onions, sliced

2 tbsp olive oil

2 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tsp chilli flakes

400g spaghetti

90g pecorino, grated

50g butter, cold

Juice of half a lemon

A large handful of fresh parsley, chopped

140g nice bread, whizzed into breadcrumbs

8 anchovies, along with the oil they came in




I recommend doing these first or while the onions caramelise to get them out the way. You can reheat just before serving.

In a large frying pan, fry the anchovies and oil over a medium heat. The anchovies will melt into the oil but some flecks of whole anchovy are good.

Add the breadcrumbs and toast stirring often. Toast till golden and crunchy. Remove from the heat and set aside till serving.


Put a large heavy bottomed pan on a medium heat and add the olive oil. Throw in the onions and turn the heat down to a medium-low.

Stir the onions and coat in the oil and season with some salt. This will help draw the water out. Cook down, stirring occasionally for 45 mins – 1hr. They should be a rich dark colour and very sticky.

When the onions are as caramelised as you like them add the garlic and the chilli flakes and fry for another 2 minutes.

Turn the heat off the onions and add the spaghetti to a pot of salted boiling water. As I said in the notes make sure the water isn’t too salty as to not oversalt the end result.

After about 5-6 minutes the spaghetti should be cooked enough to add to the onions. Put them onions back on the heat and transfer the spaghetti directly from the water to the onions. The pasta won’t be fully cooked as we finish cooking it as we make the sauce.

On a medium heat, stir the pasta into the onions adding a ladle of pasta water. Stir constantly to emulsify. The pasta will absorb the water.

Add the pecorino and another ladle of pasta water, again make sure you keep stirring!

Add the cold butter and keep stirring to emulsify. Add more pasta water if you need. Taste the pasta to see if its cooked to your liking. If not keep cooking and adding pasta water as you need if it gets too stiff.

When the pasta is cooked, and the sauce is loosened to your liking. Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper as necessary. Squeeze in the lemon juice and stir in the parsley.


Serve generously sprinkled with the crispy anchovy breadcrumbs and some additional pecorino if you like.

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