For the longest time, I was throwing out my half eaten loaves of bread knowing that they would quickly become too stale to eat.
One day, my sister suggested that I use them to make my own breadcrumbs.
"They're great tossed with pasta and greens," she said, and she was certainly right.
You will be surprised at how toasted breadcrumbs are able to transform regular pasta into a whole new taste and texture experience.
Their porous nature also causes them to absorb the intense flavors of the other ingredients in this dish, in this case, garlic, crushed red pepper, and parsley.
Throw in some substantial swiss chard and you have a simple and comforting main dish.
For a more deluxe treat, try topping the pasta with some smoked cheese or replacing the greens with broccoli rabe.
Bruschetta with White Bean & Rosemary Puree
Bread Crumb Pasta
Leafy Green Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
Glasses of Chilled White Wine
1 bunch of swiss chard or other leafy greens
16 ounces spaghetti
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 cup italian parsley, coarsely chopped
1 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs (preferably homemade)
grated parmesan cheese
Wash the greens and pat dry with paper towels or spin dry (this is very important because, if the greens are too wet, they will cause the breadcrumbs to become soggy).
Separate the stems from the greens and chop coarsely.
Cut the leaves crosswise into 1/2 inch thick slices.
Set aside until ready to be used.
Bring 4 quarts of salted water to a boil in a large pot.
Add the spaghetti and cook according to the directions on the package or until it is al dente.
While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil over medium heat in a large, wide pan.
Add the onion and chard stems and cook for about 5 minutes.
Add the garlic, crushed red pepper, and parsley and cook for 30 seconds longer.
Add the breadcrumbs, reduce the heat to medium and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid burning the breadcrumbs.
If they seem a little too dry or on the verge of burning, add a bit more olive oil to the pan.
Add the chard leaves and cook until they become slightly wilted.
When the pasta is cooked, drain it well and transfer it to a large mixing bowl.
Drizzle with a little olive oil to keep it from sticking together.
Combine the pasta and breadcrumb mixture and toss to mix.
Season to taste with salt and serve topped with grated parmesan cheese.
Makes 4 to 6 servings