Piquant Spaghetti (Spaghetti Piccanti)

In the Philippines, I grew up eating food flavored with Anchovies and Shrimp paste so my taste buds love dishes that have bold flavors or piquant as they describe it – having a pleasantly sharp taste or appetizing flavor! Whether it is green Mango, Pinakbet or Fried Pork Belly when it is flavored with Bagoong (our local name for Anchovy and/or Shrimp paste), ordinary food becomes extraordinary!

This Spaghetti Piccanti is truly agreeable with my palate and something I can enjoy over and over again. Perhaps the Anchovies that give it that rich taste or maybe the capers and olives, or even the tomatoes, whatever it may be, it is the perfect dish with a delicious complexity that will delight any pasta lover. It is at once tart because of the capers and tomatoes, salty and savory because of the olives and anchovies and with a hint of spice, too because of the red chili flakes! With all that flavor coming all together, how can you say no?

Admittedly, Anchovies are the kind of food that you either hate or love but before you totally pass on it, I hope you get to try this recipe first. The Anchovies pack in the flavor in the pasta but I promise you won’t see them in your food! Enjoy! 🙂

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4 Tablespoons, Extra Virgin Olive oil
3 Garlic Cloves, crushed
4-5 Roma or Plum Tomatoes, chopped and seeded (roughly 2 cups)
3 Tablespoons Capers, drained
1 cup Black Olives, stoned and sliced
A pinch or two of red chili flakes (optional)
1 (2 oz) canned Anchovies in Olive Oil
12 oz Spaghetti, cooked al dente
Fresh Italian parsley, chopped, for garnish


Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.

While waiting for the pasta water to boil, let’s make the sauce. Heat the oil in a large skillet using low to medium heat. Add the garlic and cook over low heat. Stir frequently until golden brown. Remove garlic and discard.

Stir in the tomatoes and cook until tender about 5 minutes. Add the capers and olives to the pan and cook for another 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. You can also add a pinch or two of chili flakes at this point if you wish to add some spicy kick. Add the anchovies, mashing them until they have disintegrated. Stir to combine all ingredients.

Place the cooked spaghetti into the skillet. Toss well.  Sprinkle in the parsley and serve immediately. Yum! 🙂

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Last updated on March 22nd, 2020 at 08:03 pm



  1. August 15, 2013 / 12:21 am

    Kamusta? I love this recipe! I am a big fan of pasta with white sauce, and although I am not fond of using tomato, I am open to trying new things. When we moved to the US, Tess taught me to use anchovies on a similar recipe, also using olive oil, parsley and garlic. We're having Thai guests next weekend, and we're planning to use your recipe! Salamat for sharing!
    Beth Datu

    • August 15, 2013 / 1:39 am

      Hi Ate Beth! Glad to hear from you! I sure hope you enjoy this dish with your friends. We miss you and the happy time we had in SF over a decade ago….wow, we should meet up again. Regards to Kuya Dennis and Tess.

    • Anonymous
      January 10, 2015 / 7:37 am

      Thanks for this. Will try this for my slumber party this weekend.

  2. August 19, 2013 / 5:49 pm

    This sounds delicious. My housemate has spent a lot of time in The Phillipines and I think this will be a very nice surprise dinner for this week. You mentioned shrimp. I would either like to add that or chunks of cooked white chicken for protein. Would that be a good idea? Thanks, Leslie

    • August 20, 2013 / 1:40 am

      There are anchovies there already…am not sure if either will work with it. The shrimp I mentioned is in paste form – much like anchovies – not whole ones – so you can certainly replace the anchovies with that though the taste will be different….If you wish to use chicken or shrimp (whole) then I suggest leaving out the anchovies and use them instead.

  3. August 23, 2013 / 12:52 pm

    I really love pasta in oil and olives! Its like the good ol' Anglio Olio pasta, it redefines pasta in a way, straying just a bot from the traditional spaghetti Bolagnese or Carbonara, makes it refreshing!

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