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Savoring Italian Cuisine: The Delicacy and History of Neapolitan Spaghetti allo Scammaro.

Neapolitan food, enriched with centuries of tradition, is a cornerstone of Italian cuisine, with each dish telling a unique story from the sun-soaked streets of Naples. One such mouth-watering dish that has passed through generations is Spaghetti allo Scammaro.

Ermanno Lelli family tradition is an archive for any traditional recipe.

A Dive Into the History

Spaghetti allo Scammaro is a pasta dish that originated in the monasteries of Naples. The term "scammaro" finds its roots in the Neapolitan dialect. During the Lenten season, monks who were unwell and were allowed to eat meat would prepare this dish. It was a creative way to savor a flavorful meal without using meat. And from these humble beginnings, the dish has become an integral part of traditional Neapolitan food.

What Makes It Special?

This dish stands out for its simplicity and the harmonious blend of flavors achieved with minimal ingredients. The combination of olives and capers—with their salty, briny punch—pairs perfectly with the mellow, nutty notes of toasted breadcrumbs and pine nuts. Add in the umami-rich anchovy paste, and you have a pasta dish that is surprisingly rich in flavor despite its "poor" origins.

Recipe: Spaghetti allo Scammaro

Here's a rundown of how to whip up this Neapolitan delicacy in your own kitchen. The ingredients needed are commonly found in Italian households, making it easy to prepare even on short notice.


·        1 pound of thin spaghetti

·        3 tbsp of salt-cured capers

·        4 tbsp of black brined olives

·        3 tbsp of pine nuts

·        2 handfuls of breadcrumbs

·        1 tsp of anchovy paste or 4 oil-packed anchovy fillets

·        A clove of garlic

·        Coarse salt

·        Fine salt

·        Freshly ground pepper to taste


1.      Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil; add a generous handful of salt, then pour in the pasta. Cook according to the instructions on the package.

2.      Rinse the capers in cold running water to get rid of all the salt; squeeze them to remove the water.

3.      Cut the olives in half and pit them if unpitted.

4.      In a non-stick pan, sauté the garlic clove with two tablespoons of oil; remove it from the pan as soon as it turns golden.

5.      Now add the anchovy paste or the rinsed and mashed anchovy fillets, the olives, the pine nuts, and the capers to the pan.

6.      Add the breadcrumbs and toast them for a few minutes until slightly brown.

7.      When the pasta is done, drain and pour it into the pan with the sauce.

8.      Toss until the sauce evenly coats the pasta.

9.      Sauté everything for a few minutes over medium heat; if it thickens too much, add a small scoop of pasta water.

10.  Remove it from the heat and sprinkle with another handful of breadcrumbs; season with salt and pepper to taste.

11.  Serve it very hot.

Variations to Try

While the traditional Spaghetti allo Scammaro is indeed a standalone culinary delight, there are several variations you can try based on your preferences. Consider adding cherry tomatoes for a vibrant pop of color and a hint of sweetness. Garlic lovers can add some minced garlic to the oil for an extra layer of flavor. If you're a fan of heat, sprinkle some chili flakes to kick things up a notch.

Spaghetti allo Scammaro is a testament to the simplicity and resourcefulness that characterizes Italian cuisine. It's a dish that's perfect for those days when you're looking for something quick and satisfying, and it's versatile enough to serve at casual get-togethers or fancy dinner parties. So the next time you're craving a taste of Naples, this dish should definitely be on your menu!

Come and get it at Segreto!


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©2020 by Ermanno Lelli, F&B Consulting

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