Genoa, Anchovies & Potatoes

After arriving home from Italy, I was a happy to learn that this month’s cookbook under review by The Cookbook Guru is The Classic Italian Cookbook by Marcella Hazan. All I can say is you can never have too much Italian food!

Although I’ve owned this cookbook for a good many years, I’ve rarely cooked from it. I tend to “mine” my copy for ideas from time to time when my other Italian cookbooks fail to inspire (and that, in itself, is a rare occurrence). However, when Leah posted on Marcella Hazan’s Braised Fennel, it looked so good that I thought the chapter on vegetables deserved a more serious look. Imagine my surprise when I ran across what looked like an Italian version from the Genoa area of that classic Swedish potato and anchovy dish, Jansson’s Temptation – Tentazione di Jansson? Okay, not really exactly like Jansson’s Temptation, which is a creamy baked casserole, an anchovy flavoured potato gratin.

Marcella Hazan’s Genoese potatoes are pan fried, but still a classic combo of potatoes and anchovies. The only cuisine from Genoa many think of is its signature dish, basil pesto. I was no exception. But, having twice survived the busy Autostrada dei Trafori (Motorway of the Tunnels) that hugs the steep Genoese coast, I am brave enough to try any new flavours from this region – pesto and beyond!


Potatoes & Anchovies Genoa Style
Like many Italian dishes, this is a flavourful recipe using simple, but high quality, fresh ingredients. Marcella indicates two anchovy fillets, preferably the salted variety – rinsed and the skin scraped away. However, I found this too mild and will add more anchovies next time I make this. It is always best to go with your own taste. For the waxy potatoes, I used small new potatoes, leaving the skin on.

  • 500g new potatoes (or small waxy potatoes)
  • 2 to 4 anchovy fillets
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons finely chopped flat leaf parsley

Clean the potatoes and peel if you wish. Slice in a mandolin – or thinly with a sharp knife. Place in a bowl with cold salted water while you assemble the other ingredients. Drain and pat dry before use.


In a wide sauté pan, add the oil and butter. Heat on low while the butter melts. Add the anchovy fillets and as they cook, mash them with the back of a wooden spoon until they dissolve. Add the potatoes and grind some pepper on, mixing them up so that the anchovy infused oil coats the potatoes. Turn up the heat slightly and cover. Cook for about 8 to 10 minutes, stirring once or twice.


Remove the lid and continue cooking until the potatoes begin to brown and take on colour. This should take about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.


Meanwhile, clean and chop the parsley; peel and finely chop the garlic. Mix the parsley and garlic and add to the pan to stir in just before serving.


  1. Reblogged this on The Cookbook Guru and commented:
    Sometimes the simplest of ideas can result in the best foodie outcomes and this Genoa Anchovie and Potatoes are a great example. If you’re a potato lover then this is a recipe for you!


  2. I’ve had a similar relationship with my Marcella Hazan books, lovely to browse and get inspiration from, but rarely used as a recipe book. We’re fans all things potato and anchovy in this house so I’m mentally searching the pantry for anchovies as I’m beginning to think about dinner.


    • Funny how some books – classics in their own right – just sit on the shelf. I think I (like you) are interested in cookbooks with a bit of a story, some cultural insights, some background behind the recipes. I’m not sure that Marcella Hazan would fall into that category. However, the food is really good, so it isn’t something one can ignore. Kind of like Julia Child is for me.

      Potatoes and anchovies are really an inspired flavour combination. Hope you found the anchovies!


    • New Potatoes are even better! You can get them year round in the supermarket now, so it is a bit confusing to call them “new” potatoes. They used to be the first ones of the spring season – the Jersey Royals, in particular. Their big brothers came along later in the summer. Had a fab trip and am already planning ways and means of going back!


  3. Your post brought back memories of that beautiful drive through Genoa – coming from Switzerland. Great recipe – will certainly try it.


    • Great scenery, isn’t it? I loved travelling this way and seeing so many things you miss if you fly. We didn’t go through Switzerland, but went on to France via Mt. Blanc – also very scenic. The Val d’Aosta deserves mor than a quick travel through, however. Next time we may plan a stop here. Potatoes and anchovies…what can I say? It is a match made in heaven!


  4. How are you enjoying being home? I love Marcella recipes, and I do have this volume, but it doesn’t contain the old recipes from her original books which I used to use all the time, before that brutal fire took them away. This recipe looks fantastic, a variation on a potato theme. You have made it look very tempting.


    • Still reliving the holiday, but laundry seems to have piled up and has a way of bringing you back to reality! I have to say that after making these potatoes, I will be delving into more of Marcella’s books. It makes me wonder why I haven’t used her more in the past.


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