Friday, February 5, 2010

"Sandy" Pasta

So usually, when a recipe doesn’t go according to plan, that’s a bad thing. Not always so! Over the summer my friend Jess told me her mom’s famous recipe for “sandy pasta.” Now I know that sounds like the sandwiches you ate on the beach as a kid, but it really is good. It’s basically pasta with breadcrumbs that have been toasted in olive oil, garlic and herbs. Really tasty. The other day, while in class, I decided that what I really wanted for dinner was some sandy pasta. I remembered that in the summer I added some chopped tomatoes and that made it even more delicious. Of course now, it’s in the middle of winter, and I refuse to buy tomatoes. They are overpriced and filled with water. But that’s okay, I have a can of diced tomatoes. Let’s just say that adding a can of diced tomatoes, with the liquid, kind of defeats the purpose of a pasta dish that is supposed to have dry, toasted breadcrumbs. But you know what? It was actually still really good! It turned a great summer dish into something that is a little heartier, for the winter. I’m excited that my revision didn’t completely ruin the dish. So try this if you’re in the mood for something different. But when fresh tomatoes are in season – you must try the original version.

"Sandy" Pasta (adapted from Jess's recipe)
Ingredients: (these are going to be very vague since I wasn’t in the mood to measure)
Olive oil (2-3 tbsp)
3-4 cloves of garlic
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Dried basil (fresh would be amazing if you have it on hand)
Seasoned breadcrumbs – I used maybe ½ a cup?
Can of diced tomatoes (or 2 chopped tomatoes during the summer)
Pasta (I used rotini – and maybe about a cup?)
Parmegiano reggiano (or other hard cheese for grating)
Freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil over medium heat. Dice or slice the garlic – it depends on how much you like garlic. If you love it – you can make the pieces bigger and even add more cloves. Add the garlic to the pan, with the pepper flakes (and dried basil). In the meantime, heat salted water for the pasta, and cook it until al dente. Keep an eye on the garlic to make sure it doesn’t burn. Add the breadcrumbs and stir to evenly distribute the oil. Stir occasionally to toast evenly. Once the breadcrumbs have absorbed all of the oil, add the tomatoes. Cook until heated through. Once the pasta is ready, add it right to the pan. If you need to thin out the sauce, add some of the pasta water. (If using fresh basil, this is when to add it.) Grate some cheese on top, sprinkle with black pepper, and enjoy!

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