Am I the last foodie on the planet to discover the wonder and sheer perfection of toasted breadcrumbs as a pasta topping?!? I've seen it, read about it but it never had that much appeal for me until the other night. Searching through my cupboards for some kind of pasta topping that was not tomato or cream based but still possessing a high degree of the comfort factor, I came across a container or organic panko bread crumbs. Since they are so coarse and they stay so delightfully crispy, I thought they would be perfect on top of pasta. A few of my other favorite ingredients; lemon, capers, parsley, olive oil, garlic, black pepper and Pecorino-Romano cheese on top of the remains of a box of capellini pasta and about 10 minutes later, a delicious dinner.
Lemony Capellini Pasta with Bread Crumbs, Capers & Garlic
6 ounces of dried capellini or other long thin pasta
juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp good quality olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 Tbsp capers, rinsed and drained
2/3 cup panko bread crumbs
2 Tbsp coarsely chopped parsley
black pepper to taste
grated Pecorino-Romano cheese to garnish (or Parmesan or cheese of your choice)
Bring water to a boil, add salt and cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile heat olive oil in a small pan, add garlic and cook until garlic is a pale, golden color. Add capers, panko and parsley, cook, stirring frequently, until breadcrumbs are toasted and golden brown. Drain pasta well, squeeze the juice of one lemon over pasta and mix gently. Top with breadcrumb mixture, black pepper and grated Pecorino-Romano cheese.
Results: Heaven in a bowl! Simple, filling, comforting with great flavor and texture. The panko stays so crispy and light in the pasta. Putting the lemon on the drained pasta rather than into the breadcrumb mixture means it stays even crisper. The flavors of the ingredients really shine and it makes a quick weeknight meal that is elegant enough to serve to guests. You can substitute or switch around the ingredients--just do the breadcrumbs--you won't be sorry!
Of course you can make your own breadcrumbs too but the panko really works well in this dish.