A Whole Wheat Pasta Recipe You’ll Love

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Onions & Anchovies
Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Onions & Anchovies

A northern Jersey friend enjoyed this yellow onion and anchovy whole wheat pasta dish several years ago at da Flora, one of my favorite North Beach restaurants. The food memory haunted her ever since.

She hasn’t been to San Francisco since that dinner at da Flora so I made my version of the dish when 10 of us gathered at the table back East last week.

Two of my Jersey friends picked 3 of us up in Manhattan and we headed to Arthur Avenue, NYC’s Little Italy in the Bronx to finalize our menu and buy what we needed for our 4-course meal from our favorite purveyors.

Then it was off to Clifton NJ for a day of cooking and eating together. 8 hours of conversation, laughter and fun fueled by fantastic food and wine.

The chance to be with family and friends around the table is what drives my cooking passion and warms my heart.

This is a simple recipe with few ingredients. Start making the sauce when you put on a large pot of salted water over high-heat to boil and the sauce will be done by the time the pasta is cooked.

The nutty toothsome whole wheat pasta is coated with the onion-anchovy sauce. The sweet onions play off the salty anchovies and the sweet acidic sherry vinegar adds a piquant finish to each bite. Savor a full-flavored pasta made from a few simple ingredients.

Flora is somewhat of a technophobe. I’m so happy that she finally decided to create a da Flora website. Take a look at this unique place. Meet the 3 remarkable women who prepare your meal with local seasonal ingredients, the best imported products and lots of love.

Book a table for your next dinner in North Beach. God bless Flora. She’ll only go so far on the web. You’ll have to call to make a reservation. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

Buon appetito!

Whole Wheat Spaghetti in an Onion-Anchovy Sauce
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A quick zesty sauce that's ready in the time it takes to cook the pasta. Sweet onions play off the anchovy-garlic sauce and nutty whole wheat pasta for a full-flavored pasta dish perked up by a bit of sherry vinegar.
Recipe type: Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4-6
  • 1 pound or 500 grams, imported Italian whole wheat spaghetti or other long pasta
  • 2 yellow onions, halved and then slivered
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup sherry vinegar
  • 10 anchovy filets, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, slivered
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups pasta cooking water
  • 3 tablespoons chopped Italian flat parsley
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • drizzle of good finishing extra virgin olive oil
  1. Put on 4 quarts of water with 3 tablespoons of sea salt over high heat to boil.
  2. When the water is at a rapid boil add the pasta and stir so the spaghetti strands don't stick together. Cook until very al dente.
  3. In the meantime, place a sauté pan large enough to hold the cooked spaghetti over medium-high heat and add the extra virgin olive oil.
  4. When the oil ripples add the thinly sliced onions, sprinkle the onions with sea salt and cook until translucent and slightly browned.
  5. Add the sherry vinegar and cook until the sauce is slightly reduced.
  6. Remove the onions and sauce to a bowl and set aside.
  7. Reduce the heat to medium-low and melt the butter in the pan.
  8. Add the anchovies and thinly sliced garlic to the pan and cook until the anchovies dissolve and the thinly sliced garlic starts to give off its aroma, about a minute or 2.
  9. Return the carmelized onions and sauce to the pan.
  10. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the pasta water and rapidly simmer until the sauce reduces by about half.
  11. When the pasta is cooked to al dente, using tongs or a spider, add the pasta to the pan. (If you drain the pasta in a colander reserve a cup of the cooking water.)
  12. Add the chopped parsley, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  13. Toss the spaghetti in the sauce. The pasta will absorb some of the sauce as it finishes cooking. (If the spaghetti is too dry add a bit more pasta water and toss again.)
  14. Serve the pasta in warm bowls and lightly drizzle each bowl with a good finishing olive oil.





Couscous with Veal, Cauliflower, Red Peppers & Saffron

Couscous with veal, cauliflower and peppers
Couscous with veal, cauliflower, red peppers and saffron

Sicily has been on my mind.

I recalled a remarkable day on the northern coast where I learned of 2 new ingredients for my Italian-American cooking, couscous and saffron.

We spent a delightful day in San Vito lo Capo lounging on the soft pink beach, swimming in the Tyrrhenian Sea with Tunisia on the horizon and exploring the annual couscous festival in the small town that hugs the coast.

As the sun began to set we headed back to our hotel in the hills overlooking Palermo. We stopped in a tavola calda in Monreale for a quick meal.

I asked the owner Filippo if he could grill swordfish for me simply seasoned with olive oil, oregano and lemon. It was one of his favorites and he was happy to make it for me.

We talked as he brushed the fresh swordfish steak with oregano-infused olive oil, laid it on the hot iron grate over the open fire and sprinkled it with sea salt. It was on the plate in a jiffy with wedges of lemon. Simply delicious.

On the way out we thanked Filippo for the wonderful meal. He went to the counter and came back with “Zafferano: Giallo il Colore della Felicita” (Yellow: The Color of Happiness), a booklet with dozens of Sicilian recipes made with saffron. He autographed it as a gift for me.

This is one of those recipes and the dish includes saffron and couscous, 2 ingredients that I added to my Italian-American pantry after that wonderful day in Sicily. It can be on your table in about 45 minutes.

The saffron bathes everything in a golden hue. The crusted veal is tender and moist, the vegetables soft and sweet and the nutty couscous absorbs the flavors of it all. Another delicious Italian dish influenced by North African cooking.

Buon appetito!

Couscous with Veal, Cauliflower, Red Peppers & Saffron
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Veal with cauliflower, red bell pepper and saffron served over couscous.
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4-6
  • 1 pound veal, cubed
  • 1 onion
  • ½ cauliflower
  • 2 tomatoes cut into 2 inch pieces or 12 small cherry or pear tomatoes cut in half
  • 1 carrot, cut in ½ inch slices
  • 1 red pepper, cored and seeded, cut 2-inch strips and then in 2-inch pieces
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup couscous
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • pinch of saffron (the dish is almost as good without saffron)
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  1. In a enamel or heavy-bottomed pot put 1 tablespoon of olive oil and melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the veal and brown all over.
  3. Add the vegetables and salt and pepper to taste and cook until the vegetables begin to brown.
  4. Pour the white wine, scrape the bottom of the pot and cook until the wine is evaporated.
  5. Continue cooking until the vegetables are knife tender, about 20 minutes. Add some vegetable broth or water if the pot is too dry.
  6. Add the saffron and gently mix all the ingredients well. Reduce the heat to low to keep the stew warm.
  7. Meanwhile, pour the couscous in a bowl and mix in 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  8. Put the vegetable broth in a pot and bring it to a boil.
  9. Pour in the couscous, stirring gently.
  10. Turn off the heat, cover the pot and let the couscous rest for 2 minutes.
  11. Add the remaining butter, stir and cook over low heat for 3 minutes, stirring the couscous with a fork.
  12. Remove from heat, cover the pan and let cool for about 8 minutes.
  13. Place the couscous on a platter and top with the veal stew.
  14. Serve immediately.