Spaghetti San Juanil


Here’s another quick pasta dish that I’m certain you will love.  If you don’t like anchovies, you can leave them out.  It will still be delicious as I am a firm believer in “your sauce is as good as your tomatoes.”  My preference by far, is to use only canned San Marzano Italian peeled plum tomatoes.  This means that the tomatoes come from San Marzano, Italy, and it must say “Product of Italy” right on the can.  There is something in the earth where these tomatoes are grown that makes them so delicious and good for you.  I heard on a Dr. Oz show that San Marzano tomatoes are one of the top four cancer fighting foods.  And just an aside, so are white beans, so check out my recipes for pasta e fagioli and menestra e fagioli.  Honestly, these tomatoes are so good, that you could eat them out of the can and be happy.  Please don’t.  I’m just trying to make the point of how important good tomatoes are in a recipe.  The anchovies definitely add flavor, so please use them unless you just don’t like them.

This is another “Little Nonni” recipe, but whenever I make it, I think of my brother.  I taught him how to make it in my kitchen several times, but he would call me EVERY time he made it for himself or his family for more than thirty years.  He even called me in London, when I was living there, for the recipe.  Perhaps it was just an excuse to call me.  I didn’t mind, as I found it very endearing.  Later in life, this became his “signature dish.”  If you were going to his home for dinner, and he was cooking, you knew you were going to have “San Juanil” sauce.  Sometimes, he would use perciatelli instead of spaghetti, which was a very good alternative.  He loved this sauce, and I hope you will too.


1 pound spaghetti or perciatelli

1/4 cup olive oil

3 cloves garlic, cut in half

1/2 can of anchovies

3 TBSP. capers

8 to 10 plum tomatoes, squished (this is approximately on 28 ounce can of tomatoes)

2 tsp. oregano

1/2 tsp. pepper

(red pepper flakes if desired)

1.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.

2.  Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large fry pan and sauté the garlic until golden, but not brown.

3.  Remove the garlic with a slotted spoon and turn off the heat.

4.  Add the anchovies and stir until dissolved….or close to dissolved.

5.  Add the capers (and hot pepper if desired) and  cook on low flame for 5 minutes.

6  Add the tomatoes, oregano and pepper and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.  If the sauce seems to thick, add 1/4 cup water from the boiling pasta.

7.  Drain pasta and add to the pan and stir to coat the pasta thoroughly with the sauce, or combine it all in a dish,

**Because of the use of the anchovies (fish), Italians do not put grated cheese on this dish. It is up to you.  Enjoy!!




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