December 2010

Calabrian Bomb




Sometimes even the best of us need a little kick. When primo chef Nancy Silverton is looking for one, she heads for Tutto Calabria Crushed Hot Chili Peppers. The family-owned southern Italian company’s from-the-jar jolt is made from small red chilies dried with salt, then crushed into a paste—flesh, skin, seeds and all—with olive oil and a touch of vinegar.

She calls the condiment her beloved Calabrian Bomb—intensely spicy but well rounded, thanks to the lingering sweetness of the pepper skins and a nice shot of brininess from the salt and vinegar. “I love using it as an instant base for pasta sauces when I want some heat and complexity,” says Silverton. “At Osteria, we offer a very simple preparation of spaghetti tossed with just these smashed Calabrian peppers, marinated white anchovies and breadcrumbs. It’s absolutely delicious.”

Another hint from the master: Add a spoonful or two of the Tutto Calabria to mayonnaise or aioli for a punchy accompaniment to cooked meats or even a dip for crudités.


Kosher salt
8 ounces spaghetti
32 marinated white anchovies
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for breadcrumbs
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon chili flakes
1⁄2 cup fine breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon Tutto Calabria Crushed Hot Chili Peppers
1 tablespoon garlic (about 4 cloves), grated or minced
2 bunches fresh chives
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat and add a generous amount of kosher salt. Stir in spaghetti, return the water to a boil and cook until al dente, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. While the pasta is cooking, place the anchovies on a large plate, drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with lemon zest and chili flakes.

Put breadcrumbs in a small bowl, stir in a few drops of the olive oil and set aside while it moistens. Heat the olive oil, Tutto Calabria sauce, garlic and a pinch of kosher salt over medium-high heat in a large skillet and sauté until garlic turns fragrant, making sure to stir constantly.

Use tongs to remove pasta from water and transfer it while still dripping to the skillet with the sauce. Put skillet over medium-high heat, add chives and stir until wilted. Add anchovies and lemon juice and toss gently.

Divide pasta mixture out of the skillet and pile onto four plates, twisting into mounds. Sprinkle chives and breadcrumbs over top. Serves four.

Recipe adapted from Silverton’s book A Twist of the Wrist: Quick Flavorful Meals with Ingredients from Jars, Cans, Bags and Boxes.