By MARTHA ROSE SHULMAN
Published: December 6, 2010 in the New York Times
Bread crumbs, crisped in olive oil with garlic, make a flavorful addition to just about any pasta. Make your own bread crumbs if you’ve got bread that’s drying out, and keep them in the freezer.
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, 2 sliced, 1 minced
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
1 14-ounce can chopped tomatoes, with juice
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup green or black olives, pitted and coarsely chopped (2 ounces)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3/4 pound spaghetti, preferably a good whole-wheat brand
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan (optional)
1. Begin heating a large pot of water for the pasta. Meanwhile, combine 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the sliced garlic over medium-low heat in a medium saucepan or skillet. Cook, stirring often, until the garlic turns golden, about two minutes. Do not let it take on any more color than this. Remove the garlic slices with a slotted spoon and discard, then add the bread crumbs to the pan. Turn the heat to medium, and cook, stirring, until the bread crumbs are crisp. Remove from the heat, and set aside.
2. Return the pan to medium heat, and add the remaining olive oil, the red pepper flakes and the minced garlic. Cook for about 30 seconds until the garlic smells fragrant, and add the tomatoes, capers and olives. Bring to a simmer, and simmer until the tomatoes have cooked down and smell fragrant, 15 to 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
3. When the water comes to a boil, salt generously and add the spaghetti. Cook al dente, following the cooking recommendations on the package but checking about a minute before the suggested time. Drain, and toss with the tomato sauce. Sprinkle the bread crumbs and parsley on top, toss again briefly and serve, passing the Parmesan at the table.
Yield: Serves four.
Advance preparation: You can make the recipe through Step 2 several hours before cooking the pasta. The bread crumbs will keep for a couple of weeks in the freezer. Reheat and crisp in a dry pan over medium heat. The tomato sauce will keep for a few days in the refrigerator.