Summer Year Round Recipes Fish Breakfast

Anchovies and butter


There is a small restaurant near where I used to live in Florence that serves this dish – the simplest but most delicious combination of three perfect ingredients. It reminds me of the importance of ‘less is more’ in summer cooking, the love that Italians have for anchovies and the pleasure that can be derived from searching out the best ingredients.


Serves 6

  • 6-12 slices of best quality white sourdough bread (in Tuscany they use a firm textured, unsalted white loaf)
  • 30g cold, unsalted butter (Italian if possible which has a natural white colour and an extra creamy flavour)
  • 6-12 anchovies filets, try to find the very best whether preserved in salt or oil
  • Lemon zest from an unwaxed lemon



  • Grill, or toast the bread so it is coloured on both sides. Allow to cool (you want the butter to remain firm).
  • If you are using salted anchovies: run them under cold water and gently open the two fillets to expose the backbone. Remove this and discard so you are left with two clean fillets. Pat dry on a piece of kitchen towel and repeat with the others. For anchovies fillets in oil: just remove from the oil and dab off excess with a kitchen towel.
  • Cut the butter into slices and lay it on the toast. Lay two anchovy fillets on top of each slice and grate over a few strands of lemon zest before serving.


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