Pasta with Garlic Breadcrumbs (Pasta con pangrattato)

This thrifty pasta dish is from an era when clever home cooks had to feed large families and meat and cheese were too expensive and often hard to come by. Bread was always on hand and stale bread was never wasted. Stale bread shows up in many classic Italian soups, pastas and even deserts. Crisp, savory breadcrumbs are the star in this dish. The simple ingredients are deceptively flavorful.

This is the basic recipe and is very, very good just the way it is. In Italy, some families toss in toasted crushed, dried red peppers, sardines or anchovies. Others brown a small bit of pancetta or prosciutto in the olive oil step of the recipe.

The beauty of Italian cooking is its long list of core recipes such as this one that have been adapted and changed to suit each family’s tastes and budget.

1/2 cup olive oil
2 cups fresh homemade breadcrumbs
2 large garlic cloves, very finely minced
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound pasta, such as spaghetti, linguine or capellini

Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs and sauté until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté another minute or two. Remove from heat; add the cheese, parsley, salt and pepper. Stir well to combine.

Cook the pasta according to package directions for al dente. Drain and add to pan with breadcrumbs. Toss over low heat until pasta is coated. Serve immediately with additional Parmesan cheese.

    • Anna
    • December 26th, 2015

    My mum used to make that on home made egg noodles but with cottage cheese on top.
    That sauce is also delicious on broccoli or cauliflower

    • Sandra
    • September 20th, 2013

    I tried it .. And it was ok but I left out the garlic since my family doesn’t like it.. But it came out too dry.. What did I do wrong???

    • You didn’t do anything wrong, this isn’t a pasta dish with sauce. Fans of this classic Italian dish love the fragrant garlic/parmesan/olive oil flavor combination. Omitting the garlic really alters the beauty of the dish, it’s integral to this recipe.

    • June 22nd, 2012

    I made this with catfish and shrimp on the side and even the teenager said he’d eat it often if I made it more. Now you KNOW it’s good when a teenager says so!

    • Babs
    • April 1st, 2012

    This was our traditional Palm Sunday dinner. Grated some fresh horseradish root on it along with parm.

    I once had the cooks on a location catering service prepare for the movie lunch to rave reviews.

    So simple and yet so good. We use to use mosticolli but now use penne pasta instead of spaghetti

    I don’t know anyone who does love this pasta. Some “Sicilain” friends also top with some tomato sauce. We don’t

    • darladisensi
    • February 3rd, 2011

    I made this tonight, and oh my is it goooooooood.
    Had some leftover pasta that I used and it turned out fabulous. I made my own breadcrumbs out of a portugese bun and some gorgeous flatbread from Cobs. Good olive oil, fresh parsley and real reggiano. (I also added a squeeze of lemon)
    It’s amazing how simple can be much more exquistie than comlex. Thank you, thank you, thank you for such a lovely recipe.


  1. I love this particular pasta but I love your pictures even more.

  2. Tried this with pork tenderloins on the side! Awesome dish just wanted to tell everyone your missing out if you dont try this awesome dish fantastic! Full of flavor and easy to do….cant miss this goodness here !!!

  3. Simple and delicious I know we all will love this one…the picture captures how great the flavors must be…love this and its very different. I think I will add a few skewers of shrimp to mine as well! Have a great Valentines Day 🙂

  4. Mmmm this looks delicious! Perfect for tasty food on a budget, thank you for sharing 🙂

  5. That looks delicious, an interesting combination! Can’t believe how simple it is too, I love storecupboard recipes 🙂

    Hungry Jenny x

  6. Oooooooooooooooooooooh. This is wonderful. If I could only buzz you twice for this…

  7. that last photo is awesome and so inviting to the senses … makes me want to lick the screen….love this dish

  8. Oh what an excellent idea! I would love to try it soon. It looks simple and easy to fix! Yum!

  9. Ooooh! So simple but I would have never of thought of it! Definitely trying this one… Thanks :o)

  1. April 24th, 2010

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: