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Spaghetti with Lemon, Anchovies and Capers

4 Servings

30 min 15 min active

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We usually just dump it down the drain, but Lidia Bastianich reminds us that the water we cook our pasta in is worth saving. She uses the starchy water to thicken flavorful sauces from strong pantry staples — anchovies, capers, garlic, lemon and red pepper flakes — to make a fast pasta sauce for this weeknight recipe. “You pull out pasta and some kind of basic, intense ingredients,” she says. “Some anchovies. Some olives. Some capers. Of course some good olive oil. You have dinner for four in less than half an hour.”




Don’t salt the pasta water as much as usual; the other ingredients provide plenty of salt. One tablespoon kosher salt for 4 quarts of water worked for this recipe.​

30 min

15 min active



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Mark V.
November 20, 2023
Loved it! Drop the cheese, add the shrimp
I loved this dish, although I didn’t include cheese, as it doesn’t feel complimentary to me here. The first taste reminded me a bit of linguine/clams/white wine sauce…so the other reviews that suggest some sautéed shrimp are SPOT ON. Without a protein, it’s just the pasta really…although one of the tastiest pastas I’ve had in a long time! I’ll make it again, many times, and I’ll plan on adding some shrimp or clams.
Yaoli Y.
January 5, 2023
I followed a reader suggestion and added some shrimp seared in garlic and butter. Very tasty and will make again!
Cora D.

Fantastic! I have made it twice now, both times just as good. It tastes like pasta that came straight from the sea, in the best possible way. If you like the taste of piccata, you're really going to like this recipe. The anchovy gives it an added depth of umami but doesn't turn the dish "fishy". Lots of Parmesan on top was key.

Steven S.

This has become one of my go-to pasta recipes. Easy and quick to put together, basically using ingredients from the pantry and fridge, and very tasty. The only modification I made was to use 2 tbsp of capers instead on 3. Next time I make it, I might try throwing in a few grilled shrimp.