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Pasta with Anchovies and Onions

A white bowl full of buctini pasta, covered with grated cheese and parsley.
I hope that my approach to tinned fish will give you new ideas for the tins stacked in your pantry. Pasta is a perfect base for tinned anchovies and onions, and I've used Parmesan, lemon, and parsley to highlight the outstanding umami flavor of one of my go-to fishes, anchovies.
Chris McDade

Prep 20 mins
Cook 25 mins
Total 45 mins
2 servings
435 kcal


  • 6 ounces bucatini or other long pasta of your choice
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 3 tablespoons (1 1/2 oz) unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 (2 1/2 oz) yellow onion sliced 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick
  • 8 anchovy fillets (or substitute 2 teaspoons anchovy paste)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice


  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat for the pasta. Stir in 2 teaspoons salt. Add the pasta and cook according to the package directions, stirring every 2 minutes. Taste a noodle a minute or so before the end of the suggested cooking time to ensure that your pasta comes out al dente.
  • Meanwhile, in a medium skillet combine the garlic, 1 tablespoon of butter, and the olive oil. Warm over low heat until the garlic becomes fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Add the onion and increase the heat to medium. Cook, giving the skillet a toss every other minute and reducing the heat if the butter begins to brown, until the onions are soft, about 6 minutes. Reduce the heat to low.
  • Just before it’s time to remove the pasta from the boiling water, add 1/3 cup (80 ml) of the pasta water and the anchovies to the onion mixture and bring it to an aggressive simmer.
  • Drain the pasta and add it to the skillet. Continue cooking, constantly stirring and flipping, until about 3 tablespoons of liquid remain in the skillet, about 3 minutes.
  • Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and remove from the heat. Add the Parmesan, parsley, and lemon juice and stir until fully incorporated.
  • Divvy the pasta between two bowls and serve with more Parmesan, if desired.