I looked in my pantry this afternoon. Like Old Mother Hubbard, my cupboard was bare. My saving grace? Half a loaf of sour dough bread, some freshly laid free range eggs courtesy of Gil and Pat’s chooks and a packet of dry spaghetti. Looks like its spaghetti with pangrattato and a poached egg for dinner.
Pangrattato. Grated bread. Italian for breadcrumbs. Poor man’s Parmesan. Peasant food perhaps but crisp, light, crunchy and delicious. Necessity truly is the mother of invention. In Italy, in one of those times when the poor were getting poorer and they couldn’t afford their beloved Parmigiano Reggiano to sprinkle on their pasta, they would use bread crumbs fried in olive oil and garlic instead.
Here’s a very simple yet modern interpretation of pangrattato. Frugal feasting at its very best.
Spaghetti with Lemon, Chilli, Garlic and Pangrattato
1/2 small loaf wood-fired sour dough bread
150 ml extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
1 fresh long red chilli, finely chopped
For the Pangrattato
PREHEAT oven to 180 C. Tear bread into bite sized chunks, place on a small tray, and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil, then toss to coat. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden. Cool. Pulse in food processor until toasted bread resembles coarse crumbs.
For the Pasta
FINELY grate lemon zest into a bowl. Juice the lemons and add to the zest with finely minced garlic and the remaining olive oil.
COOK pasta in boiling salted water according to the instructions on the packet until al dente. Drain well, then toss with the oil mixture. Stir in the parsley, chilli and half the pangrattato.
SERVE with a freshly poached free range egg and a generous sprinkling of the remaining pangrattato.