I have been trying to find a really good version of spaghetti and breadcrumbs for the last couple of weeks. Up until recently I'd often eat them at the same meal but they were always on separate plates.
I buy really good spaghetti - Rustichella d'abruzzo, as recommended by Heston Blumenthal in his Search for Perfection - and really good bread because I really love bread. As does the man. And usually we scoff the lot. But sometimes, rarely it's true but sometimes there is some bread left over and it is criminal to bin it. I'd feed it to the birds but London has more rats than people and probably birds for that matter and the rats get in first. During the heavy snow this winter I did put some out but it was not the birds that benefited so now there is a birdfeeder full of seed hanging from the tree instead and the rats dine elsewhere.
Last week miss greedy pants me had two loaves from Rhodes because they are new at the market and the rye bread I'd bought from them the week before was really good so I fancied trying a couple of different ones. Except I didn't have a use for a campagne and a sourdough so there was about a third of each loaf left over. I sliced the crusts from the outside and then sliced the remains into thick chunks and put it into the oven for ten minutes or so while I was roasting the chicken on Sunday. They dried out nicely then, when they had cooled, I ripped them into bits to put into the processor and whizzed them to crumbs. Which is like a free ingredient.
The first time I used breadcrumbs with pasta it was in a bake with aubergine that I really liked but it was a bit of a faff and slow to make midweek. The next time I crisped them in hot oil then drained them on paper while cooking some courgettes with smoked bacon and garlic and mixed the lot with the spaghetti. It was nice but the bacon was a mismatch so it's not one I'd do again. This week I decided to flavour the crumbs as they cooked with garlic and chilli then mix the lot with Parmesan and the last of a bunch of parsley chopped. Result.
Spaghetti with breadcrumbs and parmesan
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 small chilli, finely chopped
100g fresh breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons grated parmesan
2 or 3 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
Cook the spaghetti in lots of boiling salted water for the time indicated on the packet.
About five minutes before the pasta is cooked warm the oil in a large frying pan. Add the garlic, chilli and breadcrumbs and mix together with some salt and pepper. Cook over a medium heat till the crumbs are golden and fragrant.
Drain the spaghetti and return it to the pan. Mix the breadcumbs, parmesan and parsley through and serve in big bowls.
Fast. Frugal. Fabulous.