Traditional recipes

Pantry Pasta

Pantry Pasta

This dish is for when a 3 p.m. hang turns into a dinner party or when you’ve had too long of a day at work. But just because it’s comfort food doesn’t mean there aren’t techniques. They’re the same ones that go into every restaurant pasta you’ve ever loved: Salt the boiling water; cook the pasta al dente; create a silky sauce that marries pasta water, Parmesan, olive oil, and butter.


  • 12 oz. spaghetti or other long pasta
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 3 oil-packed anchovy fillets (optional)
  • ¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • ¾ cup finely grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ⅓ cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Recipe Preparation

  • Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until very al dente, about 3 minutes less than package directions.

  • Meanwhile, cook garlic and ¼ cup oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until garlic is golden, about 4 minutes. Add anchovies (if using) and red pepper flakes and cook, smashing anchovies with a wooden spoon to break them up, until anchovies begin to dissolve, about 1 minute.

  • Add 1¼ cups pasta cooking liquid to pot with anchovies and garlic and cook, stirring, until cheese is melted, about 1 minute. Using tongs, add pasta to pot, then add butter, ¾ cup Parmesan, and lots of black pepper. Cook, tossing energetically and adding more cooking liquid if needed, until pasta is al dente and sauce is thickened and coats pasta, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat; add parsley, lemon zest, and lemon juice.

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Reviews SectionThis recipe nicely translates into pantry pasta for one with a kitchen scale. Makes for a nice alternative to cacio e pepe as an easy weeknight dinner. Anchovies also: yes.monobrownVancouver, BC04/21/20AnonymousNew York04/11/20Am about to try this tonight but don't have tinned whole anchovies, has anyone tried this using anchovy paste?AnonymousYellowknife04/05/20So delicious and easy from ingredients typically found in my kitchen. I’ll be making this time and time again!!Katherine HoltKingston New York03/01/20It was so good and cool proof! I made this for one so I split everything and even though I'm sure a lot of measurements weren't great, it came out amazing. Thank you so much!Tryna make this for 1 with just 4 oz of pasta. Does reducing all ingredients to 1/3 work?This was a super delicious recipe! I may add my parm at the end next time like others suggested since the parm and parsley ended up sticking together, but otherwise I loved how light and bright the flavors were. I'll definitely make it again and see if I can make the parm creamier.Holly AltNew Berlin, WI05/04/19oops, my bad. i meant to say this was Pasta alla Puttanesca without tomatoes, capers, olives; with the addition of butter, cheese, lemon. wish i could edit my original comment.hollis5Vero Beach, FL03/27/19hey, y'all -- isn't this just a version of Pasta alla Puttanesca without the tomatoes, capers, olives, or lemon, and with the addition of cheese? if the name origin story is true, then the puttanesca recipe really IS a pantry pasta. q.e.d.hollis5Vero Beach, FL03/27/19This recipe is a son and I LOVED it!!!my partner and I thought this was amazing! I added a couple more anchovies as other reviews suggested and it turned out delicious.AnonymousAtlanta, GA02/25/19Yes!! Lovely, easy, delicious. The sauce is silky, clings to the noodles without smothering them, and the lemon and red pepper keep it light and bright even though it's largely cheese and oil. I didn't have the problem lots of other commenters seem to have had with the Parmesan clumping or sticking -- added the pasta water first, then the Parmesan gradually, and it melted in just fine. I would also say that it's crucial to prepare the sauce in a pot as Andy suggests and not a pan, so that the cheese can melt into the water without hitting the pan and sticking to it right away. Modifications: I added extra garlic and agree with other reviewers that I would add more anchovies next time I made the dish (maybe four or five fillets instead of three) as their flavor sort of got swallowed up by the other ingredients. Great recipe overall! Quick, easy, delicious. Thank you!jelfersSan Diego, CA01/01/19shannon-liaGermany12/30/18I really like this recipe, but it took me a few goes to get right. As others have said, I would recommend adding more anchovies than the recipe states. I also had a problem with the anchovies and parm clumping together, but I solved this by simmering the parm for a little longer and by adding a little more pasta water and stirring to make sure as much parm had dissolved as possible, creating a more consistent sauce. I'd also recommend you go easy on the salt in your pasta water.. the anchovies and cheese are very salty and if you salt your pasta water as much as it usually would be, the dish becomes way to salty.Now that I feel I've mastered this recipe, it's become one of my go to recipes that I call upon and I pick up a tin of anchovies every time I'm at the shops. Cheers Andy!odjuanEdinburgh, Scotland12/16/18I agree with the first review. My parm got very clumpy and mostly stuck to the pan. Not sure how I screwed it up. I would also agree it had a bit of a pepper kick, didn’t mind that though. I loved reading and watching this recipe. I am going to try it again with a better quality parm that is finely grated, hoping that was the issue.James MaxwellAtlanta12/05/18Yes, I would make it again, but I wish I'd paid more attention to the comments. I added more anchovies, but next time I think I'd double up, and I would use the fine edge on a lemon zester instead of a grater and add it in the last few seconds of frying the garlic. I will also use another clove of garlic and add more parmesan cheese and parsley.AnonymousVirginia04/30/18This recipe turned out great, the cheese blended really well with the pasta water unlike the other reviews mentioned. Need to make sure the cheesy is finely grated and I added some more anchovies.AnonymousNEW YORK CITY04/17/18I guess it'll work but nothing great. Loved the idea though the anchovy flavor didn't really come through. Mostly pepper. It was just okay. The other reviewer is right, when you add permesan to a pan over heat it's just going to clump together. I knew that would happen so I waited till the end after I turned the heat off to add the cheese.mabeorNew York City04/15/18I don't know if I did something wrong, but mixing the pasta water and parm prior to tossing in pasta 1) created a lot of splatter with the hot olive oil and 2) created a thick melted anchovy-cheese sediment that sank to the bottom and didn't mix with the pasta despite my best energetic tossing attempts. Next time,I'm going to add almost al dente pasta straight into the oil before mixing the pasta water and parm.

Watch the video: What I Ate Today + Pantry Pasta! (October 2021).