Spaghetti with Spinach, Chilli and Anchovies
spaghetti with chilli and pan choi in a bowl

Spaghetti with Spinach, Chilli and Anchovies

Total time: 45 minutes
Servings: 2
spaghetti with chilli and pan choi in a bowl


If like me you enjoy the intense fishy saltiness of anchovies then you will love this slant on one of Nigella’s recipes from her book Cook, Eat, Repeat. My version uses spinach instead of the original chard so this recipe is for spaghetti with spinach, chilli and anchovies.

anchovy fillets
Lovely anchovy fillets

Also, I like to balance the intensity of the anchovies with a good squeeze of lemon juice. Or for the more adventurous among you increase the amount of chilli and temper it with lime juice.

Don’t Forget the Peroni

Don’t forget to accompany your spaghetti with an ice-cold bottle of Peroni.

🌱 Vegetarian Options

Anchovies have a pretty strong flavour so to replace them you need something with equal intensity. I would suggest chopped black olives but not the jarred ones in brine. You could also add extra garlic and more heavily salt the pasta cooking water, both will enhance the flavours of the other ingredients.

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spaghetti with chilli and pan choi in a bowl

Spaghetti with Spinach, Chilli and Anchovies

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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: 🇮🇹 Italian
Keyword: anchovie, chilli, Italian, spaghetti
Difficulty: Easy
Heat: 🌶 Mild
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 2
Calories: 712kcal
Author: Richard


  • 300 g spinach
  • 1 red pointed pepper
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil plus more to pour over at the end
  • 8 anchovy fillets from a jar or tin
  • 3 cloves garlic large
  • ¼ teaspoon dried chilli flakes
  • 125 ml hot water from a just-boiled kettle
  • 200 g spaghetti
  • 2 – 3 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese or Pecorino Romano

To Serve:

  • 2 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese or Pecorino Romano
  • 1 lemon halved


  • Put a large saucepan of water on for the pasta.
  • When the pasta water has come to the boil, salt it – it will rise up excitedly. Once it’s calmed down again, drop in your spaghetti and cook according to the packet instructions, though start checking a couple of minutes before it says.
  • Into a large pan, add the olive oil and the anchovies, and warm slowly, stirring and pressing down on the anchovies until they seem to melt into the oil.
  • Take off the heat, peel and mince or grate in the garlic, add the chilli flakes and diced peppers, then put back on the heat, this time turned up to medium, and stir for a couple of minutes before adding the spinach leaves. Turn the leaves around in the chilli-flecked anchovy oil for a minute or so to soak up the flavour until they are wilted.
  • Use a pasta fork or tongs to add the cooked spaghetti straight to the waiting pan of spinach and peppers. It doesn't matter if the pasta is dripping with water, as that starchy liquid will help thicken your sauce. Turn the spaghetti well in the spinach, pepper and anchovy mixture; you may need to add up to 4 tablespoons (60ml) of cooking water as you toss everything together; go slowly, and stop when the spinach seems to turn into a sauce that cleaves to the strands of spaghetti.
  • Grate over about 2 tablespoons’ worth of Parmesan or Pecorino Romano and toss again, then give a generous pour of olive oil, and do likewise. Taste to see if you want more cheese or oil, and proceed accordingly, then turn into a warmed bowl or bowls, and bring the cheese, a grater and the bottle of olive oil to the table with you.


Calories: 712kcal | Carbohydrates: 90g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 5g

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