For me, this frugal pasta dish ranks among the best things to eat. It has the same appeal as pasta alla carbonara—yet it satisfies even without the pancetta, cheese, and eggs. Crisp bread crumbs seasoned with garlic, pepper, and fennel seeds provide all the flavor. It’s good for when you are feeling like a hermit and there is nothing in the cupboard. Once I made a good version of this pasta using a too-small pot and linguine. Hence its then-title, Broken Linguine with Bread Crumbs. It can also be made with smaller shapes like ziti or strozzapreti, and it’s especially nice with whole-wheat or farro pasta.–David Tanis
LC Pantry Pasta Note
Bet you’ve got everything you need for this frugal little weeknight number in your kitchen. All you need now is 15 minutes to pull it together. Seriously. Creating supper from seemingly nothing was never so easy or impressive than with this pantry pasta. The secret lies in using decent—if not superlative—ingredients, including your olive oil, and cheese. Moms, you may want to separate hold the chili flakes and perhaps the fennel seeds, depending on how adventuresome your little eaters. And everyone, if you’ve got some farro pasta or other nutty, whole-grain pasta in your pantry, this is the place to use it.
Spaghetti with Bread Crumbs
- Quick Glance
- 10 M
- 20 M
- Serves 1 (maybe 2)
- 2- to 4-inch-length dried-out, day-old bread, preferably baguette
- 2 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus lots more for drizzling
- 3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon coarsely crushed fennel seeds
- Salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Generous pinch red pepper flakes
- 4 ounces spaghetti, linguine, or other similarly shaped pasta
- Chunk pecorino Romano, for grating (optional)
- 1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until just al dente (usually a little less time than the package instructions indicate).
- 2. Using a serrated knife, carefully saw the baguette, if using, into thin slices. Using your fingers, crumble the bread to create a nice mixture of coarse and fine crumbs. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the crumbs and gently fry them, stirring occasionally and letting them slowly take on color. (You may need to add up to 2 more tablespoons oil to the skillet, depending on just how many bread crumbs you have.) When the bread crumbs are golden and crisp, add the garlic and fennel seeds, stir, and cook for a minute or so more. Season the crumbs quite generously with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Remove from the heat.
- 3. Drain the pasta, reserving the cooking water. You don’t need to be obsessive about draining the pasta until no water clings to the strands; in fact you want just a touch of the pasta water to cling to the pasta. Toss the pasta in the skillet with the bread crumb mixture. Drizzle with oil—preferably quite a lot more oil for the best results. If the mixture seems dry, add a dribble of the pasta cooking water. If using, sprinkle with grated pecorino Romano to taste.