Pasta With A Sauce Like Tapenade

Anchovies and olives and things like that… Strong flavours means don’t go overboard. This is a dish in which all sorts of flavours pop out at you, like spooks in a ghost train. For those who eat and sleep food, you will note this recipe is no more than deconstructed tapenade. Take a tick.

1 onion, sliced finely – This adds sweetness against the salt.

1 clove garlic, chopped finely

small nut of ginger, sliced finely – Again, this is for sweetness.

a little virgin olive oil or the olive oil you like best – An olive oil flavoured with basil would be marvellous here.

1 tomato, peeled and chopped into tiny pieces

12 olives, seeds removed

12 anchovies, ripped into bite-sized pieces – Preferably the Australian anchovies, coming out of Fremantle.

12 capers

fresh herbs (chives, oregano, parsley), chopped roughly

1 hot chilli, chopped finely

fresh pasta or a quality dried spaghetti

a little grating cheese for the table


Soften the onion, garlic and ginger in a little olive oil, stirring to ensure there is no sticking or burning. The onions are done after about 10 minutes.


Add the chopped tomato, olives, anchovies, capers, herbs and chilli, and cook through, stirring gently.


Cook the pasta quickly in salted boiling water. It should take no more than a minute or two. Drain and toss through the onion and anchovy mixture.


Grate some cheese over the top, to your taste. You might like some extra olive oil at the table, just for fun.

Anchovies: The more I taste anchovies, the more I like what they can do. Here’s one that you may, or may not, have considered. Cover some toast with a dose of best olive oil, and lay out some fresh, hot, just-cooked asparagus on top. Shred an anchovy or two over the asparagus, turn the pepper mill over, and let the oil and juice and bones dribble from the corners of your gob.

Remember, the great niçoise ‘pizza’ pissaladière is pretty much an onion tart, with anchovies and olives.

WINE: Anchovies are not as unkind to wine as you might think. A good semillon from the Hunter goes well as does a New Zealand sauvignon blanc. A good, fresh beer is also a nice foil.