Winter Pasta

Broccoli, anchovy and chilli pasta with crunchy sourdough crumbs


When I’m cooking dinner for myself, I want something quick and delicious. The umami quality the anchovies bring makes this taste so satisfying, and most of the ingredients will be in the store cupboard. Make sure the sauce is strongly seasoned before adding it to the pasta, which will absorb some of its flavour.

The cooking water is crucial, too – a few splashes added as you stir the pasta into the sauce will transform this into a cohesive dish.

The crunchy crumbs are optional, but I like the texture they bring.

This recipe originally appeared in the Guardian.  Photograph courtesy of Romas Foord/The Observer.


  • purple sprouting broccoli 150g (1 small bunch)
  • olive oil for frying
  • garlic ½ clove, peeled and chopped
  • salted anchovy fillets 3, roughly chopped
  • salt and black pepper
  • dried chilli flakes ½ tsp (or to taste)
  • penne 100g (or a double handful)
  • extra virgin olive oil 3 tbsp

For the breadcrumbs:

  • olive oil 1 tbsp
  • breadcrumbs 3 tbsp


  • To cook the breadcrumbs, heat the olive oil in a frying pan on a medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs and fry until golden. Season with salt and set aside.
  • Cook the broccoli in masses of well-salted boiling water for 2-3 minutes until tender. Scoop out and set aside to cool slightly. Leave the pot of water on the stove to cook the pasta in later.
  • Roughly chop the broccoli. Heat enough oil to cover the bottom of a frying pan. Add the garlic and anchovy fillets, and cook gently so the anchovy melts into the oil and the garlic starts to colour. Add the broccoli, a pinch of salt, chilli and a splash of the cooking water. Leave this to bubble away, occasionally mashing it with a wooden spoon, while you cook the pasta.
  • Top up your pot of water if necessary and bring to a rolling boil. Taste for salt and add more if it doesn’t taste properly saline. Cook the pasta for a minute less than the packet instructions state. Drain the pasta, making sure you keep at least a mug of the cooking water. Return the pasta to the pot, along with a splash of the water and some extra virgin olive oil.
  • Taste your broccoli sauce and add salt and pepper if needed – it should be highly seasoned at this point. Add the sauce to the pasta and stir well. Cook on a low heat while you mix everything together. If it starts to look dry, add more water. Taste again and season if necessary.
  • Serve with the breadcrumbs sprinkled over the top and another glug of extra virgin olive oil.


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