Spaghetti with Bread Crumbs

This spaghetti with bread crumbs is a simple yet impressive meal made with pasta, bread crumbs, garlic, fennel seed, and cheese. Perfect for those days when there’s nothing left in the fridge.

A white bowl filled with spaghetti topped with bread crumbs and a chunk of pecorino beside the bowl.

Bet you’ve got everything you need for this spaghetti with bread crumbs, a 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.–Renee Schettler Rossi

Spaghetti with Bread Crumbs

  • Quick Glance
  • (1)
  • 10 M
  • 20 M
  • Serves 1 (maybe 2)
5/5 - 1 reviews
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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).

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.

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. Originally published December 10, 2013.

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    • Kids Who Don’t Like Things Spicy
    • Moms, you may want to separate hold the chili flakes and perhaps the fennel seeds, depending on how adventuresome your little eaters.

    • Those Who Like Things A Little Extra Healthy
    • If you’ve got some farro pasta or other nutty, whole-grain pasta in your pantry, this is the place to use it.

    Recipe Testers' Reviews

    My husband doesn't eat much pasta, so it was very nice to try a pasta recipe for one serving. The recipe reflects the Italian frugality that I like so much. Take a heel of bread, an end of cheese, and a few other items that are perpetually in the kitchen and you've got a quick lunch or dinner.

    Even though my bread was day-old, I wasn't quite able to get a big range of crumb sizes. There was still too much moisture. However as the crumbs toasted in the pan, they crisped up and I was able to smash them down a bit little more with my spoon to get finer particles. The fennel was an inspired addition and rounded everything out beautifully.

    We followed this recipe precisely, increasing the amounts to serve 4 people. Everyone loved this meal and asked that we make it again soon. The bread and fennel crumbs are DELICIOUS and it would make sense to double or triple the quantities to have them on hand for pasta or vegetables.

    Easy enough for a 10-year-old to put together quickly!


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    1. We made a version of this growing up, the one main difference is anchovies. The anchovies mostly melted in the oil. They added a great mild favor.

    2. This is THE thing to have for dinner on the 19th of March; St. Joseph’s Day. The breadcrumbs remind us of the humble carpenter’s sawdust, and the dignity of an honest craftsman.

      And for dessert, a good applesauce cake or sfingi (like small profiteroles stuffed with cannoli cream). No symbolism there, just tradition.

    3. I always have this stuff on hand! It’s so easy to whip up when the natives are getting restless, and I don’t feel like putting in a whole lot of effort :o) And it’s so much tastier than a box of mac and cheese!

      1. Agreed, ashley. And I’ve added leftover sautéed shrimp, bits of cooked pancetta, shredded chicken–really anything in the icebox. It’s a great dish to help clear out the pantry.

    4. When I was a young child my mother made lunches of beadcrumbs and noodles — no spices however, just a bit of sugar sprinkled on top. My brother was still making this in his 60s. Your version sounds wonderful.

    5. Isn’t it remarkable that a peasant dish, created to use up old bread and left over pasta, becomes a delicious specialty item featured in a cooking blog often featuring more intricate and “high end” recipes. This recipe is absolutely wonderful!

      1. Stu, agreed. Our philosophy is great food is great no matter who makes it, where it comes from, and how it came into being. You won’t find a single food snobs here.

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