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Rigatoni with Cherry Tomatoes and Anchovies

4 to 6 Servings

30 minutes

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At Osteria ai Promessi Sposi in Venice, Italy, chef Claudio Furlanis taught us how to make a dish of his own creation—pasta tossed with cherry tomatoes, sautéed onion and anchovies. Furlanis briefly roasted the tomatoes to render them soft and juicy and to concentrate their flavor before introducing them to the other ingredients. The umami quotient was deliciously high from the tomatoes and anchovies, and with the sauce cooked into the pasta until the noodles were perfectly al dente, each bite was extraordinarily satisfying and flavor-filled. This recipe is our adaptation of his dish. We swapped rigatoni or ziti for the very large, short, tube-shaped noodles we had in Venice and added some garlic and pepper flakes for a little pungency. We also like to finish the pasta with grated Parmesan.

4 to 6



Don’t use more than 6 cups of water to boil the pasta. The amount is scant, but intentionally so in order to create a starchy liquid to use later, when saucing the noodles. Also, be sure to drain the pasta when it’s shy of al dente. It will finish cooking directly in the sauce, where it absorbs lots of flavor.

30 minutes



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Mark V.
November 20, 2023
Fantastic and filling
This is a great dish for the anchovy lover, although it isn’t exactly “fishy” in any way. I like them, and I made this for myself, so I can’t speak for those hoping to try it on others that can’t stand anchovies. However, personally, I didn’t use cheese and I am glad that I didn’t.
Brandon H.
November 7, 2023
Can be made vegetarian!
Instead of anchovies, we use 1/2 sheet of sushi nori put in a spice blender and 1.5 Tbs of umeboshi paste (though red or white miso would also work). Add those at the same time you'd normally add the anchovies. This dish is amazing. If the pasta instructions are too vague, we just cook the pasta in water for half the time on the box, and then drain it. When you finish cooking the pasta in the sauce, you start with the other half of the cook time on the box. You then control the final texture by just cooking a little longer (adding pasta water as needed) and tasting as you go. Also, my broiler doesn't roast the tomatoes in the 10 minutes, this suggests. Don't fear blackening the tomatoes a bit, that is flavor! In my oven we do 12 minutes and then turn them over (as best possible with small spheres) so there is more roasting on other sides. That will make sure they burst easily.
Mark L.
September 16, 2023
Deliciously creamy
Absolutely excellent idea to finish the pasta with the sauce. Initially I thought using 2 cups of the pasta water was insane, but as the pasta finished the sauce tightened up and was incredibly creamy. Amazing result from using only a few basic ingredients. I could have let the tomatoes get a little more charred, and depending on your taste, you could use more anchovies. Note the cooking times are not exact. I should have pre-cooked the pasta a bit more before draining it initially. It needed a lot more time once I added the sauce. That said, I’m definitely going to be making this again. Delicious and little prepping required.
Anita E.
July 5, 2023
Good way to use anchovies
My family really enjoyed this simple recipe. The more we ate, the more we liked the taste. I might add a little more anchovy the next time.
Jennifer B.
April 4, 2024
Since I'm neither a tomato nor anchovy fan, this was wasted on me. But I liked the idea of roasting the tomatoes and using the pasta water. My son and his girlfriend loved it.
Diana L.

I made this tonight. It was ok .. not great. It was easy to make. I like the idea of having small tomatoes broil in the oven. Thanks for the recipe.

diane d.

how long did you cook the pasta originally

Lynn C.

Hi Diane -

Cooking time for the pasta is going to depend on if you are using rigatoni, ziti or mezze rigati, which are all suggested pasta types for this recipe, but will all have slightly different cooking times. Instead we use a clue, "just shy of al dente," to indicate doneness. Just pull out a piece of pasta and taste. If it's just slightly undercooked and, when cut in half there is a small dot of uncooked pasta in the center, it's just shy of al dente. Hope that helps!

The Milk Street Team