Italian Regional Recipes Primi Piatti: Pasta, Rice, Soups

Spaghetti with Anchovies, ‘Nduja & Myrtle Leaves

As known pasta lovers, Italians are a sucker for a good plate of spaghetti!

There are simpler and more complicated recipes: from Aglio & Olio – The Simplest Spaghetti Sauce Ever, with Garlic, Olive Oil and Chili Pepper to the unusual combination of Baked Tomatoes, Black Garlic and Guanciale, to the Frittata di Spaghetti – Neapolitan Omelette with Leftover Pasta, a famous street-food delicacy from Southern Italy.

Today we propose you an unusual combination to spice up your usual tomato sauce: anchovy fillets in olive oil, myrtle leaves from Sardinia, and ‘Nduja from Calabria. If you’re not familiar with these ingredients, read our articles on the topic: What Is ‘Nduja and Where Can You Buy It? and What Is Myrtle and Where Can You Buy It?

Serves: 4 | Preparation time: 10 mins | Cooking time: 40 mins

  • Tomato sauce: 400 g
  • Spaghetti: 380 g
  • Anchovy fillets in olive oil: 4 or 5 fillets
  • Myrtle: 1 sprig
  • Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO): 2 tbsp
  • ‘Nduja: 1 tbsp
  • Pitted black olives: a handful
  • Salt: to taste


Heat up the oil in a pan and fry up the ‘Nduja and the anchovy fillets over low heat until they combine with the oil giving it a thicker texture.

Add the tomato sauce and a pinch of salt, stir vigorously and cook on medium to high heat for about 5 minutes.

Add the olives and the myrtle to the tomato sauce, lower the heat to a minimum and cook the sauce for a further 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the sauce from burning.

Tip: You can add the olives whole or chopped into small pieces, as you prefer. Make sure to keep the myrtle leaves whole and attached to the sprig, instead, because it will be easier to remove them once the sauce is ready to be served.

Boil the spaghetti in salted water and drain them when they are still al dente. Add the spaghetti to the pan with the tomato sauce and mix well until the pasta and the sauce are evenly combined.

Remove the myrtle leaves and serve warm.

Tip: Some finely chopped, fresh chili peppers will be a good substitute for ‘Nduja – and if you’re brave enough, you can even add both for an extra-spicy sauce!

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One Comment

  1. My dear Fiorenze, I would very much like to try some of your recipes, this one in particular, but I am afraid I simply do not know how to convert grams to American metrics. I searched the internet but it is all so confusing, nothing I tried seems to answer my question. I am hoping you may be able to steer me in some direction so I can learn more about how to make the conversions.
    On another note, I tried all three of the outlets you mention trying to find Nduja and while they offer it in different ways all three outlets are in London and do not deliver here in the United States. I guess I will have to wing it as best I can. Myrtle does not appear anywhere that I looked.
    Oh,, woe is me. I feel so lost. Love your blog though so will continue to subscribe.

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