Bigoli in Salsa Veneta (Anchovies, Onions)

30 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 1x


  • 812 anchovies (3+ ounces), salt packed
  • 3 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Salt, to taste
  • Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound bigoli (or bucatini or thick spaghetti) – see note.
  • * Bigoli is a fresh pasta, common in the Veneto region of Italy. If you choose to make the pasta, follow the instructions below.

For the pasta (to yield one pound)

  • 1 1/2 cups soft flour, 00 preferred (substitute or mix whole wheat)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Water
  • Salt

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For the pasta:

  1. Using a clean and dry work surface, place the flour in a mound, creating a hole in the center. Add a teaspoon of salt and a little lukewarm water. Knead the dough until it is firm and elastic . At this point, make another hole and add the egg. With a rolling pin, stretch the dough; fold it in two, roll it again.
  2. Repeat this process of thinning the dough and fold for eight consecutive times. At this point, the dough can be rolled out and cut into strips the size of spaghetti. Alternatively, the dough can be inserted into a potato masher or meat grinder (without the blade) and extruded into the designed shape and length. (In Veneto, such a device is called a Bigola, made for this purpose.) Allow the pasta to dry for about an hour.

For the sauce:

  1. Rinse the anchovies in cold water, removing any remaining bones with your fingers. Coarsely chop them and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for about 10-15 minutes, adding 1-2 tablespoons of water until they become soft. Add the anchovies and stir carefully until they dissolve completely. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook the mixture until the onions are golden.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain it and add to the skillet with the sauce. Mix well and serve immediately.

Ed's Review

No, no, no, a visit to the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas does not count as a trip to Venice.  Gondolas and canals aside, there are probably no two places on Earth that are more different. New, clean, fake, and air conditioned, in the desert, versus ancient, artistic, humid, and (during the summer) a little smelly. But where would you rather be?

Perhaps no city in the world punches above its weight more than Venice. Sure it’s sinking and over-run with tourists, but with only 60,000 inhabitants, its beauty, culture, and history rival any city in the world.  Venice is  better to visit in the fall, after the tourists subside, and before the arrival of the acqua alta, or the high water, that floods the city each morning, requiring everyone to walk on catwalks and in waders.

In the evening, the locals head out for cicchetti, the Venetian version of tapas.   As a world power and center of trade for a millennium, Venetian cuisine was both local and international long before this was cool. They even made their own version of spaghetti, called bigoli.  A thick, fresh pasta, it is often served in salsa (sauce), which consists of  anchovies, onions, and olive oil. Salty, sweet, and delectable. On "lean days," such as Good Friday, bigoli in salsa is quite the Venetian meal. A far cry from Vegas, baby.

Buon Appetito and Buona Pasqua!
Ed Garrubbo

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