Makes 4 servings
- Kosher salt, as needed
- 1 lb dried spaghetti
- 6 salt-cured anchovy fillets
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup chopped fennel fronds
- 1/2 cup toasted bread crumbs
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the spaghetti and stir to submerge and separate the strands. Cook, uncovered, until the pasta is just tender (al dente), 10 to 12 minutes (check the cooking time for your pasta). Reserve a few ladlefuls of the pasta cooking water for finishing the sauce (you will need about 1/2 cup).
While the pasta is cooking, use a small knife to cut the anchovy fillets away from the bone. Scrape the salt away. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic is lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add the anchovies and cook, mashing them into the sauce with the back of a wooden spoon, until they melt into the oil, about 2 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta cooking water and the fennel fronds, and simmer slowly over low heat for 5 minutes.
Drain the spaghetti in a colander. Shake well to remove any water clinging to the pasta. Pour the drained pasta into the pan with the garlic fennel sauce and toss together over low heat until the pasta is evenly coated, about 1 minute. Add half the bread crumbs and quickly toss the pasta until they are evenly distributed. Serve at once on heated plates topped with the remaining bread crumbs.