The ultimate way to top your pasta
What could be better than a pile of pasta topped with freshly grated cheese? A pile of pasta covered in breadcrumbs.
The Italian name for this practice, pangrattato, translates to "grated bread," and the story goes that poor Italians began to grate stale bread over pasta when they couldn't afford Parmesan.
Though breadcrumbs might have been poor man's cheese at one point, they are far from that now. "The texture of the breadcrumbs offers another flavor carrier in a pasta dish, helping to capture even more of the delicious sauce. And it brings a nice crunchy texture into the mix," says our Assistant Food Editor, Kat Sachs.
The key is to use homemade breadcrumbs. Tear up a stale loaf and pulse it in a food processor until you have coarse crumbs. Throw them in a sauté pan with a little olive oil and maybe some minced garlic, freshly chopped herbs, lemon zest, or mashed anchovies for good measure and toast until crunchy and golden brown.
You can freeze the breadcrumbs, untoasted, for a couple of months in an airtight container. There's no need to defrost them when you need them, just toss them in a sauté pan straight from the freezer and toast away.
Then sprinkle them all over your favorite pasta. And since we now live in a world when a hunk of Parmesan is easier to come by, there's no reason to say you can't use both.
Get this recipe: Gemelli with Summer Squash and Herby Breadcrumbs
More from Epicurious:
The 12 easiest no-cook pastas ever
The epic hack to peeling a dozen eggs in 104 seconds
The crazy secret ingredient that makes steak more tender
14 no-stress ways to cook salmon
20 must-try ways to pair items you already have in your pantry
12 lightning-fast chicken dinners to make now