Poor Man’s Pasta

Spaghetti with Bread Crumbs, Anchovies and Parsley

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

 OF COURSE we take for granted the fact that we live in a world with clean running water, fresh vegetables and an abundance of protein sources, spices and condiments to use each day.  Yet, sometimes it’s nice to strip away the extras and have an ultra-simple meal like this one – a reminder of just how lucky we are.

 This is something you make when you have not a cent in your pocket and little but dry bread and pasta in the pantry. My husband used to make it at the end of the month when his paycheck ran out.  It was before he decided to go to college, at a time in his life when he was working construction and landscaping jobs.

This humble recipe is surprisingly good, as long as you don’t fear anchovies, and it goes with anything or nothing. These days we enjoy it as a side dish with the luxury of salad and a piece of grilled fish or the like.  If you have some Parmesan cheese, shred some generously over the top.

 Spaghetti with Bread Crumbs, Anchovies and Parsley

 I suggest whole wheat spaghetti and use of a whole grain bread that doesn’t have sweeteners. I use Trader Joe’s Whole Wheat Tuscan Pane, remove the crusts, tear it into pieces and pulse it in a mini-food processor to crumbs.   A white European or artisan bread would work, too.  Sandwich breads tend to be too sweet.  To remove the zest from lemons I use a long  microplane® zester/grater. 

1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs, best made from a rustic whole grain bread free of sweeteners

1/2 tablespoon olive oil


3 tablespoons olive oil

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or pressed

4 anchovies

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 pound whole grain spaghetti

1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest

3/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Freshly ground black pepper

Freshly shredded Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350°.  In a bowl, toss bread crumbs with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil and a pinch of salt.  Spread on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until lightly toasted, stirring once or twice. Cool.   In small skillet, combine 3 tablespoons olive oil, garlic, anchovies and crushed red pepper over medium-low to low heat.  With fork, mash anchovies and stir to blend with the garlic – this should take about 30 seconds, enough time to melt the anchovies into a paste and flavor the oil with the garlic and red pepper.  Remove from heat.  Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water as package directs, until al dente.  Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water to use if needed when tossing pasta.  Place drained pasta in a large serving bowl.  Stir lemon zest into flavored oil and drizzle over pasta.  Add parsley.  Toss until well blended, adding some of the pasta cooking water if needed. Taste and add salt and black pepper, as desired.  Add bread crumbs and toss just before serving.  Pass Parmesan cheese.  Makes about 4 entrée or 8 side dish servings. 

 Copyright © Lorelle S Del Matto 2012

lorelle About lorelle

Crazy about cooking, eating and sharing good food – my work and leisure revolve around the kitchen. As a culinary dietitian my professional life encompasses nutrition counseling and education, recipe development, product development, food and nutrition writing, marketing communications, corporate test kitchen and consumer affairs management, food styling and work as a product spokesperson.


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