Midnight Spaghetti with Breadcrumbs and Pepper

It’s tough cooking on one leg.  My hours are all upside down right now because of naps that occur without a moment’s notice.  Maybe it’s narcolepsy?  I took a nap rather than making dinner the other night, and I woke up so hungry, so I decided to become Italian for one night and had Spaghetti a Mezzanotte — midnight spaghetti.  The rules are that it has to be easy and has to have very few ingredients.  MAMA MIA! PERFETTO!!  and I had enough presence of mind to take a photo!  and then I  slid into a pasta coma.

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Serves 1

A 4-inch length stale dry baguette or a few slices of dry old French bread

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling

3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced

¼ teaspoon coarsely crushed fennel seeds

Salt and pepper

Red pepper flakes

¼ pound spaghetti, linguine, or other pasta shape

a tiny bit of minced parsley

A chunk of Pecorino Romano cheese for grating (optional)

1.  Tear or cut the bread into large chunks, then pulse those in a food processor creating a mixture of large and fine crumbs..

2.  Heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil in a wide skillet over medium heat. Add the crumbs and let them fry gently and slowly take on color, stirring occasionally. When they are golden and crisp, add the garlic and fennel seeds and cook for a minute or so. Season the crumbs generously with salt and pepper, and add as  much red pepper flakes as you like — I used a small pinch — but I’m kind of a baby about food that’s too spicy. Remove from the heat.

3.  Cook the pasta in boiling well-salted water until just al dente (usually for less time than the package instructions indicate). Drain and toss with the bread crumb mixture. Drizzle a little more oil. Add grated parmesan or pecorino romano to taste.


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