Pasta mollicata – bucatini with anchovies and breadcrumbs

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This cheap and simple pasta recipe from Basilicata can be whipped up in twenty minutes and is surprisingly tasty considering its humble ingredient list. Perfect for using up stale bread, the sauce is made up of anchovies, garlic, tomato, breadcrumbs and a splash of red wine (if you happen to have a bottle open).

First published in 2019

This simple pasta recipe hails from the southern Italian region of Basilicata and despite its popularity it's often known as a 'poor man's dish'. Making use of dried stale bread, the basic sauce is made up of anchovies, garlic, breadcrumbs, tomato and a splash of red wine. We love this particular recipe, though there are of course many versions of the dish, which change depending on the season and what people have in their fridge – so feel free to make your own adjustments!

If you can find it, be sure to add a pinch of peperoni cruschi (crushed dried Senise peppers), which are a ubiquitous ingredient in Basilicata and used to flavour the vast majority of dishes in the region.




  • 200g of bucatini pasta
  • olive oil
  • 5 anchovy fillets in oil, reserve some of the oil to cook with
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 50g of stale breadcrumbs
  • 1 dash of red wine
  • 1 tomato, diced to roughly 1cm
  • chopped parsley, to garnish
  • pecorino, grated, to garnish


Cook the bucatini in salted boiling water for 10–12 minutes
While the pasta is cooking, add a splash of olive oil to a nonstick frying pan. Once hot add the onion, garlic and anchovies with a splash of oil from the anchovy jar. Gently cook until the anchovies have melted down and the onion and garlic is just soft
Add the breadcrumbs with a splash of red wine and the diced tomato. Turn up the heat a little to reduce the juices from the tomato
Once the pasta is cooked, drain and then add to the frying pan and toss to coat in the sauce
Finish with chopped parsley and pecorino

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