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Spaghetti with fried breadcrumbs (pangrattato)

Just a quickie tonight, as I am in the middle of packing for a little holiday en famille (and I have just painted my nails, so typing is… well, a bit slower and trickier than usual!) Where are we going? Spain, of course. (Adam’s parents have a little finca in Andalucia so we pretty much only ever go there on holiday!). So, let’s get straight to it shall we? This dinner, enjoyed by us just a few hours ago, is for people who love simple, gutsy pasta. I mean real, al dente pasta that isn’t drowned in tomato or cream sauce. It’s a celebration of simplicity and texture. The success of the dish lies in the quality of the bread that you use to make the fried breadcrumbs, the olive oil (as you use a lot), and cooking your pasta well (in lots of salted water until only just al dente). There is a ‘sauce’, and it has strong flavours, but there is a very little amount, so it is well balanced. I expect the vast majority of children would love this; mine both did. It’s fun and interesting. They both kept asking for more crunchy bread and cheese to sprinkle on. It really benefits from a glass of red wine to cut through the carbiness, and you may feel inclined to serve a little salad alongside. If making for adults or older children, I would add some dried chilli flakes at the same time as the garlic (to the sauce) as a bit of heat would really make it sing.

I don’t plan to be blogging next week, as I am having a proper holiday where ‘work’ is banned. So, until the week after next… Adios!

Serves: 4 adults
Prep time: 10 minutes 
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes

400g spaghetti
4 tablespoons of sundried tomato tapenade (or chopped sun dried tomatoes, or sun dried tomato paste)
4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 x 40g tin of good quality anchovies in oil

For the pangrattato:
200g good quality leftover bread (ideally an Artisan or sourdough loaf), blitzed in a food processor
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh rosemary (or thyme)
8 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Lots of parmesan, to serve


  1. First make your pangrattato. Warm lots of oil in a heavy bottomed pan. Add your chopped herbs, garlic and breadcrumbs and fry gently over a medium heat until nicely browned and crispy. It should take about 20 minutes. Do it ahead if you like and then give a quick refresh just before serving, that’s what I did. 
  2. At the same time, or not, put on a large pan filled with water to boil. Salt generously. Add your spaghetti when it is angrily boiling away, stir to prevent sticking and let it bubble for a minute or two less than it says on the packet. When it’s almost done, take out a mugful of starchy cooking water and put to one side
  3. Whilst the pasta is on, over a medium heat, warm some more oil in another frying pan, and add the garlic. Let it cook for a minute or so (do not allow the garlic to brown), and tip in the whole tin of anchovies (including oil) and the sun dried tomatoes. The anchovies will just melt into the sauce. Stir well, reduce the heat to low and let it gently cook. 
  4. Drain your pasta and tip in your sun dried tomato sauce. Add a splash or two of cooking water and toss through well so the water soaks into the pasta – this is how you avoid ending up with a solid mass of sticky spaghetti. Add a little bit more water and toss again. 
  5. Serve with lots of breadcrumbs tossed though at the last minute and even more on top, as well as plenty of parmesan. 

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