I think Pasta with Toasted Breadcrumbs is the pasta equivalent of stone soup. You might think you don’t have anything to make a sauce but if you’ve got some oil, stale bread or breadcrumbs (I keep some in the freezer), garlic and oregano, you can make a tasty dish. If you’re got a bit of cheese to grate over it, even better!
I love using breadcrumbs in gratins and on cutlets but I never thought to add breadcrumbs to pasta. I was looking for a simple pasta dish and stumbled on this in Lidia’s Italy: 140 Simple and Delicious Recipes from the Ten Places in Italy Lidia Loves Most, (affiliate link) one of my favorite Italian cookbooks. The toasted breadcrumbs add a nice texture contrast to the smooth pasta. The book calls for a thick hollow pasta called bucatini but I just used spaghetti. It was quite tasty!
Pasta with Toasted Breadcrumbs
- 1 cup coarse bread crumbs
- 1/2 Tablespoons kosher salt or coarse sea salt
- 1/2 pound spaghetti or bucatini
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons sliced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan or plus more at the table
- Grate some stale bread into breadcrumbs. You want largish pieces.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook until al dente.
- As soon as you add the pasta to the pot, heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the oil. Add the garlic slices and cook, stirring, until the garlic is sizzling but don't let it darken.
- Add the bread crumbs and stir well to coat them with the oil. Keep stirring and tossing as they start to toast. Sprinkle the dried oregano over the bread crumbs and keep stirring. Lower the heat and cook until the bread crumbs and garlic are golden and crisp but not overdone, then turn off the heat.
- Check the pasta periodically. As soon as it is done al dente, lift it out of the water, let it drain for a bit and then add to the skillet. It's helpful to use tongs and a spider for this step.
- Turn the heat back on and toss the pasta with the bread crumbs and garlic. Salt with 1/4 teaspoon salt and toss.
- If the bread crumbs absorb all the oil and the pasta seems dry, add more olive oil and toss.
- Taste and season with more salt if needed. Sprinkle the parsley and cheese on the pasta, toss and serve.