This simple yet delicious dish exemplifies perfectly the concept of cucina povera (peasant cuisine). It uses ingredients that are widely available in Puglia and very affordable: olives, olive oil, bread, anchovies, and red pepper. As is the case with many simple Puglian dishes, the whole is a great deal more impressive than the sum of its parts.
Yield: 4 servings
7 tablespoons (105 mL) olive oil, divided
¾ cup (177 mL) fresh breadcrumbs
4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
6 salt-packed or oil-packed canned anchovies (see Notes)
1 teaspoon (5 mL) red pepper flakes
1 cup (236 mL) green olives, chopped
11 ounces (308 g) bucatini
1. In a small pan over low heat, warm 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of the olive oil and add the breadcrumbs. Sauté the breadcrumbs until golden. Set aside.
2. In a larger pan over low heat, heat the remaining 6 tablespoons (90 mL) olive oil, the garlic, and the anchovies. As soon as the anchovies have dissolved into the oil and the garlic starts to change color, add the red pepper flakes and olives, toss to coat the olives with the olive oil, and cook for a couple of minutes for the flavors to blend.
3. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in salted water according to the package directions. When the pasta is al dente, drain it and add it to the olive mix. Toss to coat the pasta with the sauce. Sprinkle the pasta with the sautéed breadcrumbs and serve hot.
It is better to use salt-packed anchovies, but they are a little harder to find. If you find them, use fewer, as they are bigger, and make sure to rinse off the salt before sautéing them.