This delicious dish is eaten year-round, but especially on March 19, the day Italians celebrate the feast day of St. Joseph. The name comes from the main ingredient, the breadcrumbs, which are said to resemble the sawdust left behind after a carpenter’s workday.
The recipe below serves about 4-5 people, but you can adjust accordingly.
St. Joseph’s Day Pasta
½ cup olive oil, divided
2 cups unseasoned breadcrumbs
Table salt for the pasta water
1 pound bucatini, spaghetti, fettuccini, or other long pasta
8 anchovy fillets, chopped
Crushed red pepper flakes
- In a large sauté pan over medium heat, heat ¼ cup of oil. Add the breadcrumbs and mix with a wooden spoon. Toast the breadcrumbs until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside in a small bowl.
- Meanwhile, in a 6-quart pot over high heat, bring about 4 quarts of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta, stir, and cook to just under al dente, about 2 minutes less than the box instructs.
- Meanwhile, as the pasta cooks, in the same sauté pan used for the breadcrumbs, add the remaining ¼ cup of oil, chopped anchovies and the oil they came in, and red pepper flakes, and cook over low heat until the oil is hot but not burning, and the anchovies break down.
- Drain the pasta, reserving 2 or 3 tablespoons of pasta water. Add the pasta to the sauté pan. Coat evenly, adding a few tablespoons of the pasta water, or additional oil, if it’s looking dry. Continue until the pasta is fully cooked to al dente.
- Turn the heat off, and add most of the breadcrumbs to the pasta, stirring to coat evenly. Season with additional salt, if needed. Plate the pasta and top each dish with the remaining breadcrumbs.
Notes: Make this dish more satiating with some raisins and pine nuts. Add them to step 1 while toasting the breadcrumbs. These are typical Sicilian additions to this dish.