This Italian pasta with toasted breadcrumbs and garlic is a quick and simple dish you can whip up in minutes. Add any leftovers you have in your fridge and call it a day!
True scenario: You return home after a long day of running around, you feel mentally excausted, and your feet, no, make that your entire body, hurts. Oh, and you also have to make dinner. Take out? Yes, that’s an option, but why not try this toasted breadcrumb and garlic pasta specifically created by Italian housewives for situations like this? After all, you’ve got some old bread in the fridge, and you don’t like to throw away food. Plus, this recipe gives you the freedom to improvise and add any other leftovers you’ve got in your fridge (broccoli or green beans pair very well). This light and healthy simple pasta recipe sure sounds interesting right now, ha? And it tastes pretty good, too!
Easy pasta dishes with simple and cheap, everyday ingredients is the characteristic of the Mediterranean cuisine, and when we’re talking about Italy, we’re talking about cucina povera, which actually means poor kitchen. Cucina povera utilizes simple and cheap, everyday ingredients to make tasty and full of flavor dishes. And in most cases, these dishes are also light and healthy! Recipes of the same philosophy are this Mediterranean vegetable orzotto (made with orzo pasta), these Tuscan style white beans (you can also make a bean risotto with the leftovers), and this light and creamy butternut squash risotto with mushroom chips.
Well-browned breadcrumbs add complexity
A main ingredient of this Italian pasta recipe is the toasted breadcrumbs. Cooking them with olive oil over medium/high heat until they’re well-browned will build flavor and make the dish very fragrant. Don’t be afraid to toast them very well, just keep cooking them until they smell nutty and they’re deep brown in color. Pay attention to stir the pan very often so that they get uniformly browned without burning them.
How to make breadcrumbs: Just process some slices of bread in the food processor. 1-2 days old bread works well, but I’ve also made them with fresh bread with no problems.
Traditionally, some finely chopped anchoves (which ultimately “dissolve” into the breadcrumbs) are also used. Anchovy fillets, when used in moderation, don’t add any fishy taste to the final dish just an extra level of umami. If you’re not vegan and happen to have some in your fridge, try adding one or two of them in the pan with the breadcrumbs.
- Process 1-2 days old bread in the food processor to make the breadcrumbs (but fresh bread will also do)
- Brown the breadcrumbs very well. Otherwise, you’ll just eat pasta with bread.
- If you’re not vegan, add 1-2 finely chopped anchovy fillets to the breadcrumbs.
- Taste and adjust salt before serving. Since this is a recipe with simple ingredients, lack of salt can result in a bland dish. However, if you use anchovies, take into consideration that they can be very salty.
- Increase the quantity of the garlic if you really love it!
- Keeping a small pot of basil by your kitchen window will provide you with enough leaves for many recipes 🙂
Similar recipes you may like:
Garlic Noodles (from Pups with Chopsticks)
- 1 pound (450-500 grams) spaghetti pasta
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
- 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
- freshly grated black pepper and salt to taste
- 1 cup chopped parsley
- 8-10 chopped basil leaves (optional)
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (or 4 tablespoons grated Parmigiano Reggiano for vegetarians)
- Toast the breadcrumbs: Transfer the olive oil and the breadcrumbs to a large saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, over medium/high heat until the breadcrumbs are well browned (about 10 minutes). Reduce heat to medium, add the garlic, the salt and the pepper and cook for 2-3 minutes more, stirring constantly. Remove form the heat.
In the meantime, cook the pasta in a large pot filled with salted water according to the packaging directions. Drain well and mix in the breadcrumbs, the parsley, the basil, and the nutritional yeast (or Parmigiano).
- Serve immediately. Eat!
Keep in mind that this recipe has no sauce, and the breadcrumbs absorb all the olive oil, so it is on the dry side. If you want it with some extra moisture, reserve half a cup of pasta water before you drain it (or don’t drain the pasta completely) and add it back to the pot with the rest of the ingredients.
- any leftover vegetables you have in your fridge (broccoli and green beans work well), chopped and sauteed briefly in high heat.
- 1 cup of chopped walnuts, added to the breadcrumbs 2-3 minutes before removing from the heat.
- chili pepper flakes
Vegetarian additions: A fried egg on top of each serving
Pescetarian additions: 1-2 finely chopped anchovy fillets
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