Here’s a kid-friendly recipe that has saved the day at our place on more than a few occasions. Breadcrumbs in a pasta recipe may sound kind of weird, but trust me, it’s major lip-smacking yum. The breadcrumbs provide both crunch and a delectable toasty-ness, a nice change of pace from the usual sauced pasta. I also love this broccoli recipe because it’s quick and super frugal. You’ll feel like a hero when you throw it together on one of those days when you never managed to make it to the market and there’s nothing but a head of broccoli staring back at you in the refrigerator. The other ingredients are so basic, you’ll probably find them in your pantry: pasta, breadcrumbs, garlic, olive oil, a lemon and some parmegiano reggiano.
DIY Breadcrumbs — Homemade breadcrumbs really do make all the difference so if you can find the time to make them, it’s worth it. Just chuck leftover bread crusts and slightly stale pieces in a freezer bag. When the bag is full, let them thaw and blitz them in food processor until you have coarse crumbs. If you want a little extra nutritional boost, you can throw in some wheat germ or golden flax seed with the bread. Then toast the crumbs on a cookie sheet until they are crisp and dry. Approx 10 minutes at 350. Make a bunch and store them in an air tight container — your pantry will thank you!
1. Toss breadcrumbs with good olive oil and a few pinches of salt to taste. Use at least 1 cup of crumbs per pound of pasta. I always like to make a little extra because they’re so, so yummy. Toss the olive oil-coated crumbs in a hot pan until they’re nice and toasty.
2. Wash and trim broccoli into bite-sized pieces. Cook until tender crisp (steam, saute or even microwave with a a few tablespoons of water).
3. Cook your pasta until al dente in well-salted water.
4. While the pasta is cooking, mince several cloves of garlic and saute in olive oil until they just begin to turn golden.
5. Immediately add the cooked pasta and broccoli and toss. Sprinkle with half the breadcrumbs and toss well again. Add a sprinkle of salt, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a generous grating of parmegiano reggiano. Taste and adjust seasoning. You can add a few spoons of pasta water if you want a moister dish.
6. Place in a serving bowl and sprinkle with remaining breadcrumbs (a little minced parsley would be good too, but it’s totally optional). You can reserve some crumbs for sprinkling at the table if you like along with some parmegiano, good olive oil and lemon wedges.