Pasta with Anchovies and Breadcrumbs
Pasta alla Paolina
Pasta a Palina Ca’ Anciova e Muddica Atturrata

In the Monastery of San Francesco di Paola, in Palermo, a monk prepared this pasta dish, using the few ingredients available in his pantry: tomatoes, salted anchovies, garlic, and olive oil but what makes this dish really different is that a bit of powdered cinnamon and one or two cloves were added.
Although those last two ingredients are essential to the original Pasta alla Paolina, in my family we rarely followed this rule and when making this sauce we tailored this recipe to our taste omitting the cinnamon and ground cloves, using rarely only one half grounded clove.
When you will be cooking pasta using the above recipe, you will be making a dish full of new and refreshing flavors and from this combination of different fragrances you will discover that Pasta alla Paolina is not secondary to any other pasta dish you’ve ever tasted!...


Serves 4



  • 1 lb. pasta, preferably penne ziti or Margherita, narrow curly lasagna   
  • 1 can of 14 oz. Italian peeled tomatoes, cut in small pieces with juice  
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced  
  • 4 salted fillet of anchovies rinsed. Use up to 8 anchovies to suit your taste  
  • 8 tablespoons of olive oil  
  • ¼ cup basil leaves chopped  
  • ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon (Optional)  
  • 1 or 2 ground cloves (Optional)  
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs drizzled with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, toasted in the oven for 3 minutes  
  • Salt and pepper to taste   


The Sauce
In a 12 to 14 inches sauté pan set over a medium flame, heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil.
 Add 2 cloves of minced garlic and sauté until golden.




Add chopped peeled tomatoes and cook for about 6 minutes over a high flame.
In a small plate, using a fork, mash the anchovies with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Add to tomatoes along with cinnamon and cloves, lower the flame and simmer for about 10 minutes.
Add pepper and taste sauce if salt is needed.


Margherita Pasta


The Assembly
Cook pasta according to manufacture’s directions, reducing recommended cooking time by 2 minutes.


BasilOlive OilBreadcrumbs


Drain pasta, reserve a cup of water and toss the cooked pasta into the sauté pan with the sauce. Add remaining clove of minced garlic and chopped basil. Toss until pasta and sauce are well combined, add ½ of the breadcrumbs and over a low heat gently turn for about 2 minutes. If too dry, add some of the reserved water. Serve immediately, garnish with remaining breadcrumbs.