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Playing Spanish Spaghetti


  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound whole wheat spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • 6 to 8 flat fillets anchovies or 3 teaspoons anchovy paste
  • 8 to 10 jarred piquillo peppers or 4 roasted red peppers, drained
  • 1 cup loosely packed, pitted black olives, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds, toasted, to pass around the table
  • Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • Manchego cheese for garnish


Serves: 4 servings


Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add some salt and the spaghetti, and cook until just shy of al dente (it will continue to cook in the sauce for a minute or two). Drain, reserving a ladleful of the pasta cooking water.

While the pasta is working, heat the EVOO, 4 turns of the pan, in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and anchovies, and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the garlic is tender and the anchovies are melted, about 5 minutes.

In a food processor, puree the peppers then add the pepper puree into the garlic-anchovy oil. Warm through and season with pepper to taste.

Add the reserved pasta cooking water to the sauce. Add the olives, red pepper flakes and a handful of parsley (reserving some for garnish). Add the pasta to the pot and toss it in the sauce for a minute or two to allow the pasta to soak up the sauce. To serve, transfer to a serving platter or 4 shallow dinner bowls. Garnish with parsley, shaved manchego cheese and toasted almonds.