Store-cupboard spaghetti for garlic-bread lovers
Wild garlic-flavoured breadcrumbs can add an extra dimension to classic pasta dishes
Garlic bread spaghetti with green salad.
I have another recipe for you this week that uses basic ingredients but gives delicious results. If you want your garlic bread entangled with every forkful of spaghetti, then this is the dinner for you.
My middle child adores garlic bread and if it’s being served alongside dinner he will just fill up on that first. Eyes wide, perched on the chair with both hands gripping the crusts, he inhales each slice. My children first tasted garlic bread last year and I think he’s making up for lost time.
The beauty of this dish is its versatility, you can add lots of things to it, if you wish. A few anchovies add a meaty umami kick, some finely chopped olives bring some welcome saltiness, a pinch of chilli flakes, or any herbs you have, add an extra dimension too. It’s a meal made from such simple ingredients. But do use a good olive oil as you will rely on the flavour from it.
If you feel that breadcrumbs on pasta is a bit of a carbohydrate overload, then fold some baby spinach through the hot pasta, or some sauteed mushrooms. Serve this with a big green salad or some al dente broccoli. Either way it will be on the table within 15 minutes.
Now is the time for the seasonal delicacy that is wild garlic. If you’re lucky enough to live close to shadowy damp woodland, then you surely have come across it. You can omit the garlic and parsley in this recipe and use finely chopped wild garlic leaves, if you prefer.
The wild garlic leaves are wide and glossy, with a distinctive garlic smell. Three-cornered leek, with its similar white flowers, grows more commonly and lines so many roadsides. It has thin, tough leaves, and while still edible, it lacks the pungent flavour of the wild garlic. It has, as the name suggests, more of a leek or onion smell and taste.
Any foraged food is good to introduce to our diet though. Only pick what you need from a clean spot, away from roads. Wash the leaves well and use soon after picking for best results.
Make double the amount of breadcrumbs you need here and you can use them for topping pasta, scattering over soup or in salads. I usually make this breadcrumb mix for topping fish. Simply lay a piece of chunky hake, or similar, on an oiled tray and top with this punchy mix. The garlic, lemon and parsley are delicious with most things.
I always pop unwanted trimmings and crusts of bread into the freezer and at times like this they’re just the ticket.
GARLIC BREAD SPAGHETTI
4 cloves garlic, crushed
3 tbsp chopped parsley
Zest of ½ lemon
Salt and black pepper
To serve: grated Parmesan
1 Bring a large pan of water to the boil, add a good pinch of salt and cook the spaghetti for about 10 minutes, or until al dente. Keep back about one cupful of water but drain away the rest. Return the pasta to the pan with the cooking water, season well with salt and black pepper. Add a drizzle of olive oil.
2 While the pasta cooks, heat a wide frying pan over a medium heat. Add two to three tablespoons of olive oil and cook the garlic for a few seconds, before adding the breadcrumbs. Keep stirring for three or four minutes, ensuring nothing burns.
3 Tip the garlic crumbs into a bowl and stir through a good pinch of salt, parsley and the lemon zest.
4 Fold half of the crumbs through the spaghetti then divide into four bowls. Top each bowl with the remaining breadcrumbs and serve with grated Parmesan and a big green salad.