Spaghetti With Fried Capers, Anchovies, & Shrimps

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Lemon flavored pasta has always been a favorite of mine, and of course lemon also pairs well with seafood. I recently was reading about fried capers, and they sounded so delicious that I decided I had to incorporate them into a pasta dish. Frying capers completely changes the texture and flavor creating a crunchy little tidbit that would add a tasty bite to any dish they. Buttery, toasted pine nuts are also something that I often like to add to many of my pasta dishes as they add a slightly nutty flavor and some texture without taking over the dish.

The sauce for this pasta is simply a combination of lemon juice and zest, anchovies, garlic, olive oil and seasonings. I used a wand blender to create a smooth sauce and break down the garlic and anchovies and blend the sauce flavors together. I also quick fried some Key West pink shrimp to toss with my pasta along with the fried capers, lightly toasted pine nuts and chopped fresh parsley. The sauce, toasted pine nuts, and fried capers can all be prepared ahead of time, so all you need to do is cook the pasta, fry the shrimp, and then toss everything together before serving.

This dish has lots of flavor and texture, and the addition of shrimp turns it into a one-dish meal. The anchovies are an integral part of this dish as they add a lot of flavor. Do choose good quality imported anchovies in Olive oil. I prefer Scalia anchovies from Sicily.  They are meaty, and full flavored without that unpleasant can anchovy flavor so many folks dislike. We use these anchovies in our pasta dishes as well as to top our pizzas. Good quality ingredients will truly help to ensure that you end up with the most flavor!

When choosing seafood for a pasta dish, bigger is not always better. Choose a medium, bite-size shrimp. They’re usually sold by the number needed to make up one pound; 21-25 count is a good size to use for pasta. In Italy, it’s quite common to leave the tails on the shrimp—which is what I did—but feel free to remove them if you prefer. I recommend purchasing shrimp in the shell, and, like all seafood, it should smell of the sea, and not have any sour or “fishy” odor.

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Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 

Spaghetti With Fried Capers, Anchovies, & Shrimps

Spaghetti With Fried Capers, Anchovies, & Shrimps

Yield: Serves 4 - 6
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes


For The Sauce:

  • 5 Anchovy Fillets
  • 1 Garlic Clove, Peeled
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Lemon Zest
  • 3 Tablespoons Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 1/3 Cup Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper To Taste
  • Pinch Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1/2 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley

For The Pasta:

  • 1/3 Cup Olive Oil, Divided
  • 1/2 Cup Drained Capers, Patted Dry
  • 1/4 Cup Pine Nuts
  • 1 Pound Shrimp, Cleaned & Deveined
  • 1 Pound Spaghetti


  1. Place all the sauce ingredients except the parsley, and blend in a blender or with a hand blender until smooth.
  2. Stir the parsley into the sauce, then set aside.
  3. In a small skillet, heat half the olive oil over medium high heat until lightly smoking.
  4. Add the capers and fry until lightly browned and crisp, about 4 minutes.
  5. Use a slotted spoon to remove the capers to paper towels.
  6. Empty the oil, then brown the pine nuts over medium heat, stirring constantly, about 3 minutes.
  7. Set aside.
  8. Place a large pot of lightly salted water on to boil.
  9. Add the pasta and cook until “al dente”.
  10. While the pasta is cooking, place the remaining oil in a skillet and heat over medium high heat.
  11. Once hot, add the shrimp, and season with salt and pepper.
  12. Cook, turning as needed until the shrimp are just cooked through, about 6 minutes.
  13. Set aside.
  14. Drain the pasta, then return to the pot along with the sauce, shrimp, capers, and pine nuts.
  15. Toss to mix over high heat until piping hot.
  16. Serve in individual bowls and enjoy!

Did you make this recipe?

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  1. Great pasta, lemons and shrimps! Is there anything better than this wonderful dish? I’m really loving this pasta. And I’m kind of attached to lemons. This is so great!

  2. Incredible dish!  Doubled garlic, used less zest (not a big fan of too much lemon) and added chopped, sautéed mushrooms.  On second serving, added grated Parmesan.  Loved this meal and will be making often.  Delicious.

  3. Doubled the sauce because I knew it wouldn’t be enough for a pound of pasta but absolutely delicious! My boyfriend says “amazing!” So will be making again. Thank you!

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