I often use freshly crisped breadcrumbs or croutons as a topping for pasta: they add toasty flavor and crunchy texture. But a few weeks ago Jackie and I were taken to dinner at a lively Italian-Spanish restaurant, where an antipasto of tender artichoke hearts was sauced with a well-seasoned blend of breadcrumbs, herbs, garlic, lemony cooking juices and oil. The crumbs gave up their crispness as the liquid penetrated them, but they retained flavor and a gained a new texture, and I thought a similar approach would work as a pasta dressing, with tomatoes providing the liquid and much of the flavor.But it’s winter, and decent tomatoes are hard to find. Still, I’d bought a pound of dark-fleshed Mexico-grown tomatoes from the supermarket: One evening we were desperate for a tomato for our hamburgers, no matter what. They weren’t full of flavor, but their texture and juiciness were unexpectedly good. When the remaining ones were slow-roasted with olive oil and salt, they turned into an excellent – well, almost excellent – basis for this pasta dish, though it is something we’ll have again at the height of the 2018 tomato season. Even with perfect in-season tomatoes, I will slow-roast them as in the recipe: For this dish, the more intense flavor and sauce-like texture will be a plus.Note the absence of garlic, onions and herbs: this is a spare dish with just a few good flavors. That is not to say that you couldn’t add a clove of garlic, sliced and sweated, or some chopped herbs. Thyme, parsley or basil come to mind.Try to use fresh breadcrumbs here. For crumbing, I buy a big (1.5 pounds!) Italianate white loaf, which I slice, leave to partially dry on a rack in a warm place, then bit by bit chop into crumbs in a blender (the food processor is not good for this task). It is not especially crusty, so I use the whole thing, crust and all. I then freeze the crumbs in a plastic bag and use them by the handful for everything from binding grated potatoes for pancakes to coating wiener schnitzel.The tomatoes can be roasted up to two days in advance and refrigerated; the breadcrumbs too can be toasted in advance.
Like the brocoli à la polonaise, this could well be a first course or served in place of the salad, or it could accompany poached or scrambled eggs, plain broiled chicken or fish, or pork or veal chops. In this recipe you may blanch the broccoli in advance, and sauté it just before serving.
This is a simple dish that can be thrown together quickly, and I like to serve it atop dressed greens like chicken paillard. You can use pre-made breadcrumbs, but it's even better if you have a stale baguette that you can slice up and toss in a food processor.
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For weeks during her first trimester, as our little Jude baked in utero, growing from the size of a blueberry to a Mission fig, Kristen ate only white foods.
Bagels with cream cheese. Yogurt drizzled with honey. Gallons of full-fat milk and crackers. Pasta dressed with olive oil and a dash of salt. No meat, no greens. She did allow for the occasional bit of brown to sneak in — whole-wheat sandwiches smeared with almond butter. And she had her chocolate, of course.
Morning sickness made meals a treacherous activity. Every time Kristen opened the fridge, it was like facing a firing squad of food aversions.
“It was horrible. Not. Fun.”
But I had to eat, too. As always, I wanted something deeply satisfying, even if it was plain pasta with olive oil. So I started making this dish with staples we had on hand. It’s a classic pantry raid. If your kitchen is decently stocked, you can pretty much make some version of this dish any night of the week.
The anchovies here melt into the oil, spiked with red pepper flakes and garlic. You get the saltiness combined with the aromatics. The toasted breadcrumbs give a nice mouthfeel, while the lemon sends off sparks of acid.
It’s super simple, yet ethereal. I think we ate this for three nights straight once. And we still eat it. When Kristen asks for “pregnancy pasta,” I know exactly what she means.
I often throw together this pasta (a one-stop meal!) when I've had a long, busy day. The only thing I need to buy is the chicory — the rest of the ingredients have a permanent spot in my pantry — so I don't even have to come up with a shopping list.
Prepping the ingredients for this recipe is easy enough, so the dish comes together rather quickly and that's just what this hungry, tired cook needs on such nights!
But the best part about this bowl of pasta is that every bite is as delicious as it is nourishing. The earthy greens, the spicy chile peppers, the chewy pasta, the savory, crunchy breadcrumbs — everything you could possibly want, or crave — is in this one beautiful bowl.
It is important to note that this dish does not have an anchovy flavor. Indeed, there is no reason ever to tell anyone who eats this dish that there are anchovies in it. The taste is merely salty and rich — and reflects beautifully off the sweet, creamy taste of the cauliflower beneath its slightly crunchy breadcrumb topping.
See all cauliflower recipes.
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This easy, satisfying, and super-fast dish was born out of exhaustion. One night, after flirting with the idea of serving jarred sauce on pasta, I decided it was just as easy to make a quick garlic and oil sauce. My husband suggested some toasted breadcrumbs for contrast, and I was off and running. A little lemon, a little Parmesan, some parsley, and whaddya know? It's a fantastic little dinner! The brightness of the lemon makes this more than just a bowl of pasta and garlic (which I admit is, in itself, quite a satisfying meal).
While you're waiting for the water to boil, mince the garlic, zest the lemon, and chop the parsley; by the time that quick-cooking angel hair is ready, the sauce will be, too.
Click here to see 15 Easy 15-Minute Pasta Recipes.