Pasta with Anchovy-Walnut Sauce

Perfect for a New Holiday Tradition and Beyond

Usually, when there are a bunch of my family members together for Christmas Eve dinner, we celebrate with one of my favorite meals, the Feast of the Seven Fishes.

Oh the baccalà (salted cod)! And the shrimp, clams, smelts, calamari, and two other miscellaneous fish! This meal is filled with tradition, friends, family fighting over the last pieces (believe it or not my dad always loved the smelts), fruit, desserts, and maybe Midnight Mass if everyone can stay awake.

Even a Little Tradition is a Good Thing

Growing up with my large, Italian family, it’s hard for Christmas to come and go without participating in this Italian tradition, even if just a little. Since there will only be a few of us for Christmas Eve dinner this year, we won’t go all-out. Maybe a feast with just two fishes. One of the dishes I’ll make is pasta with anchovy-walnut sauce. I found it in an old issue of Cooking Light (sometimes I’m glad I keep my piles around the house) and tried it a few weeks ago. It is so good and easy to get together at any time, especially if you tend to keep the basic ingredients handy.

The Good Kind of Fishy!

Anchovies get a bad rap and I’m not sure why – they’re so small and flavorful (not to mention healthy)! I’m telling you, you won’t regret making this recipe! The anchovies get mashed up and cooked down, so you won’t even see them. You’ll just be left with their salty flavor. The spices, pepper and toasted walnuts tie the dish together. Salty, spicy, crunchy…yum!

As I prepare and eat our mini Feast of the Seven Fishes dinner this year, I’ll be thinking of the hubbub from big family holidays past with a smile on my face and love in my heart!

Recipe for Pasta with Anchovy-Walnut Sauce:

Adapted from Cooking Light

Serves 4 people


  • 8 ounces uncooked pasta like spaghetti or fettuccine
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped onion (the original recipe calls for 3 cups)
  • 1/2 cup sliced Anaheim chile pepper (the original recipe calls for red bell pepper)
  • 6 canned anchovy fillets in oil, drained
  • 3 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth (the original recipe calls for chicken broth)
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley as garnish (optional)


  1. Cook your pasta according to the package directions. Once cooked, drain the pasta (reserve 1/2 cup of the water to use later) and set it aside. Keep it warm if possible, or at least at room temperature.
  2. Use a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and allow it to get hot. Add the onion and sauté it for about five minutes or until they start to soften.
  3. Add your pepper, anchovies, and garlic. Cook for a few minutes, stirring it often and breaking up the anchovies into small pieces. Pour in the broth and mix everything together. Toss in the crushed red pepper and cook until most of the liquid evaporates.
  4. Add the pasta to the mixture, along with the reserved water). Add the salt and pepper to taste. If you’re adding parsley, sprinkle it over the mixture now.
  5. Toss the pasta to coat it well and serve.
Makes 4 servings
Adapted from Cooking Light


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