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Spaghetti with Bread Crumbs

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

Prep 10 mins
Cook 10 mins
Total 20 mins
2 servings
342 kcal


  • One piece 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)


  • 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.


Spaghetti With Bread Crumbs Variation

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.