The best thing since sliced bread





Has to be, in my opinion, pangritatta.

This linguini with anchovies, dried chilli and pangritatta is what I welcomed Federico and Anabela with, when they came over to visit in November. 





Having backpacked their way through Europe for the previous two weeks before they came to see me (I was the icing on the cake, they definitely left the best for last, ha ha ha!!) they were literally crying out for some good home-made (and especially “hot”) food. What are aunts for then? 

Federico wasn’t sure Ana would like the anchovies in the pasta but, unused as I am to cooking on a daily basis for more than two people, I actually had to cook another batch because they both wanted second helpings! 

This is one of many of Jamie Oliver’s work of genius.  It’s a shame you can’t actually taste or smell the photos because this dish has two winners: the pangritatta and the lemon which is very present in this dish and it makes a welcome detour from the usual cream or tomato sauce.  





Pangritatta is the peasant’s alternative to grated cheese. I find it’s a great alternative when, for some reason, cheese (grated or otherwise) is out of the question. And I promise you, you’ll want to eat it just as it is, on its own. 

I was dying to include this recipe in the blog ever since I started it. I try not to repeat myself, having so many tasty recipes to choose from but this has become a firm favourite and it’s definitely here to stay.    


Spaghetti with anchovies, dried chilli and pangritatta adapted from a recipe in The Return of the Naked Chef by Jamie Oliver

Serves 4

 455g/1lb dried spaghetti, the best you can get (this time I used linguini)

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

16 anchovy fillets

juice of 2 lemons

2 small dried chillies, crumbled 

 quantities for one person:

handful spaghetti (about 100g)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 clove garlic (half for the pasta, half for the pangritatta)

4 anchovy fillets

juice of ½ lemon

half dried red chilli or just the tip off a fresh red one 

for the pangritatta:

8 tablespoons olive oil

1 clove garlic, sliced

1 good handful of fresh thyme leaves, picked

200g/7 oz fresh breadcrumbs

salt and freshly ground black pepper 

quantities for one person:

2 tablespoons olive oil

handful of thyme leaves (or a variety of dried herbs, I usually go for what I have at that moment in the cupboard)

1 slice brown or white bread

salt and freshly ground black pepper 

First make the pangritatta. Put the olive oil into a hot thick-bottomed pan. Add the garlic, thyme and breadcrumbs; they will fry and begin to toast. (Note: I usually add the garlic right at the end, so that it doesn’t burn). Stir for a couple of minutes until the breadcrumbs are really crisp and golden. Season with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper and drain on kitchen paper. Cook the spaghetti in salted boiling water until al dente. While it’s cooking, put the oil and garlic in a pan and heat gently. As the garlic begins to soften, lay the anchovy fillets over the top. After a minute you will see them begin to melt. Squeeze in the lemon juice and sprinkle in the dried chillies. Toss in the drained spaghetti and coat it in the sauce. Taste a bit of pasta – it may need a little more lemon juice and a little extra seasoning. Serve it straight away, sprinkled really generously with the pangritatta.If you’re cooking for one, don’t get too enthusiastic about the chilli or you; ll remember it forevermore.  Anchovies (or sardines)I use one garlic clove and (half for the pangritatta and the other for the anchovy and lemon sauce.

Note: If you haven’t got dried chilli peppers, you can replace them with a quarter or half a green jalapeño pepper in brine.

Since we’re in anchovy mode I’ll include another recipe using the same principle of garlic, anchovies and herbs:  

Garlic and anchovy butter 






Garlic and anchovy butter

about 250g butter, at room temperature (the softer it is, the better it will be to handle it)

anchovy fillets, chopped, to taste

garlic, chopped, to taste

variety of dried or fresh herbs, to taste (feel free to experiment)

juice of half a lime

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (optional)

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Simply mix all the ingredients into the butter and it’s ready to use.

If you make a large quantity and want to save it, do as follows:

Shape it into a cilinder and wrap in greaseproof paper. (If you find the butter is too soft to handle, put it in the fridge for a little while until it’s firm enough to shape it but not rock hard). It freezes extremely well. You can keep it in the freezer for a couple of months.

When you need to use it, simply slice it as needed and save the rest. This butter is fantastic for sauteeing fresh vegetables or even on a piece of toast.

When I made it, I used it spread between the skin and the flesh of a chicken.  This gives both the flesh and the skin an amazing flavour.


2 thoughts on “The best thing since sliced bread

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s