Nadiya Hussain's anchovy breadcrumb spaghetti is your coziest weeknight dinner

A "GBBO" star on her favorite kitchen equipment, and whether she's Team Pie or Team Cake

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Senior Writer

Published October 13, 2022 1:30PM (EDT)

Anchovy Spaghetti (Mary Elizabeth Williams)
Anchovy Spaghetti (Mary Elizabeth Williams)

In "Quick & Dirty," Salon Food's Mary Elizabeth Williams serves up simplified recipes and shortcuts for exhausted cooks just like you — because quick and dirty should still be delicious.

Sure, she's one of the most beloved winners of the beloved "Great British Baking Show." Sure, her television series and her books — including her newest cookbook — frequently feature the word "baking" in the title. But if you know anything at all about Nadiya Hussain, you know she's so much more than cakes. She's also the expert you can trust with, as she delivers in "Nadiya's Everyday Baking: From Weeknight Dinners to Celebration Cakes, Let Your Oven Do the Work," cheerful beet salads and hearty seafood boils.

It all stands to reason, coming from a woman who admits in her "Everyday Baking" that while her family were enthusiastic cooks, growing up, "We didn't bake… the oven knob lay unused." Now that she's made a career of making up for lost time, Hussain tells Salon via email that she wants her books "to make anyone attempting the recipes to feel confidence in their ability to produce something delicious." 

For other home cooks who have likewise yet make much use of their own oven knobs, Hussain advises you to ease in to the process. "Start with a no bake bake," she says, "rocky road or tiffin [fridge cake]. Something you can measure, mix and set in the fridge — and still have the joy of licking the bowl too." It doesn't take too much equipment or time to get going, either. Nadiya says, "I would suggest having a good set of spatulas, electric hand whisk and a few standard sized nonstick cake tins and weighing scales. With these key pieces, you can bake pretty much everything."

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And when I ask, "Which would win in your kitchen — cookies, pie, or cake?" Hussain offers the ideal reply. "All three," she says. "Why have one when you can have all three?"

Sweet as my own tooth is, it was her anchovy and breadcrumb pasta that first called to me the loudest from the book, one bleak evening when it had been raining nonstop for days on end. I longed for something stress-free and comforting to curl up with, at least until I worked my way to dessert, and Hussain's savory, salty, crunchy dish hit the spot. Brightened with loads of lemon and an abundance of garlic, this is the dish to convert the anchovy-ambivalent and make fans of the fish swoon. "Always taste as you go. It all takes practice," Hussain says, a tip that's impossible not to follow when your kitchen is heady with the aroma of toasty, buttery breadcrumbs.

I have streamlined Hussain's recipe slightly here by browning the bread in the toaster and using quick cooking green onions, but I promise this is still incredibly rich and outrageously cozy. And while it's a hearty meal for the dampest autumn evening, be sure save a little room afterward for some cookies, pie, cake — or all three.

* * *

Inspired by Nadiya's Everyday Baking by Nadiya Hussain

Nadiya Hussein's anchovy crumb pasta
 4 servings
Prep Time
 10 minutes
Cook Time


  • 2 slices of white bread (or one hamburger bun)
  • 8 anchovy filets (or less if you're shy about it)
  • 1 tablespoon of the anchovy oil
  • 1 pound of linguini or spaghetti
  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • 6 cloves of sliced garlic
  • 3 - 6 green onions stalks, sliced
  • 1 lemon
  • Chopped fresh parsley, if you like it




  1. Set a big pot of water to boil.
  2. Meanwhile, toast your bread and then tear it into pieces.
  3. Boil the pasta to directions, about 8 - 9 minutes.
  4. While the pasta is cooking, melt your butter over medium heat until it just starts to brown. Add the garlic and 2 anchovy filets. Cook to soften, then add the green onion and cook down about 5 minutes more.
  5. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup or so of the cooking water.
  6. Add the pasta and reserved water to the anchovy butter, cooking until the liquid has not quite evaporated and everything is silky and incorporated.
  7. In a food processor, pulse the breadcrumbs, anchovy oil and remaining anchovy filets.
  8. To the pan, add roughly 2 tablespoons of the breadcrumb mixture, along with the zest and juice of the lemon.
  9. Slide the pasta to a big serving platter, and top with a generous handful of more breadcrumbs and fresh parsley. Enjoy immediately.

Cook's Notes

I wouldn't hesitate to throw some olives in here for even more savory flavor.

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By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a senior writer for Salon and author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

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