There comes a time every week in our house when the bounty of food supplies in the fridge has eroded away leaving a cavernously sad fridge. Unfortunately for us, this time if the week often coincides with my paid work days and as such my motivation and enthusiasm for whipping up a meal is a barren as the fridge.
Never fear…. Pangrattato is here!
I have seen references to pangrattato over the years in numerous cook books I have flicked through and basically it is a toasted breadcrumb mix that can be topped onto cooked veggies or mixed through pasta. I have seen it referred to as ‘a poor mans Parmesan cheese’ whereby ingenious Italian nonnas would fry up breadcrumbs, grated lemon rind and salt as an alternative when there was no Parmesan cheese left to top their pasta dishes.
So with a sad looking fridge containing half a butternut pumpkin, some bacon and some stale bread I thought it was time to try this pangrattato miracle and let it work its magic.
The great this about pangrattato is that it will lend itself to any great flavour combinations. In terms of pleasing your family it is easy to substitute the veggies I used for any others that you know will be more successful with your crew… Or that you have in the fridge.
Peas and bacon?
Roasted tomatoes and spinach?
Ribbons of roast zucchini and capsicum?
….the options are endless. But for us, with bacon, pumpkin and some sad looking rocket in the fridge this was our version.
First thing is to make the basic pangrattato mix. I used four slices of wholemeal bread and whizzed them up in a blender to make breadcrumbs
Once you have your fine breadcrumbs I added a couple of good tablespoons of olive oil to a hot pan and fried them with lemon rind and salt. Once they are looking golden and smell toasty place aside in a bowl to cool slightly.
I chose to put finely chopped rocket and parsley through mine but feel free to omit or add whatever you wish. I used 1/3 cup of each. Add each of these to the breadcrumb mix and stir well
Whilst all this is happening I had diced some butternut pumpkin and tossed them in olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper before roasting for 30 minutes or so until soft and golden.
Then it is time to get some spaghetti in a big pot and boil as per instructions on the packet. While this was happening I finely sliced the bacon and added that to a frypan with a good glug of oil. Don’t be shy of the olive oil, it will serve as the sauce – sticking the bread mix to the pasta when it is all combined. When the bacon is golden and crisp add the cooked pasta to the frypan along with the pumpkin
Then add the star ingredient …the pangrattato! Reserve a little for garnish at the end. Give it all a good mix through with some tongs and your ready to serve.
Whilst it is absolutely delicious just as is, if you must you can add some Parmesan cheese over the top. Yum.
The verdict – pretty good. Looks can be deceiving and this photo really does not do the meal justice. It looks like the kids have not eaten much but they did make a fair dint in the serve given to them and there were no complaints or whining at all.
So pleased to have found an easy, adaptable and yummy stand by dinner. Hope you enjoy it too.
Pumpkin and Bacon Pangrattato
4 slices whole bread
Grated rind of 1 small lemon
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
1/3 cup finely chopped rocket
1/2 butternut pumpkin diced
3 rashes of bacon thinly sliced
1/3 cup of olive oil
Parmesan to serve (optional)
In a food processor, blend slices of bread up to make fresh breadcrumbs. Add 2 -3 tbs of oil to a hot frypan and add breadcrumbs, lemon rind and salt. Fry until golden and toasty. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly before adding parsley and rocket.
Meanwhile, coat diced pumpkin in a little olive oil and place in an hot oven, 200 degree Celsius for 30 minutes or until golden brown and soft.
When the pumpkin is nearly cooked bring a big pot of water to the boil and cook the spaghetti as per instructions of the packet.
Return the frypan to the heat and add the remaining olive oil. Add the bacon and fry until golden brown. There is quite a lot of oil in the frypan but that serves as your sauce, coating the pangrattato mix to the pasta.
Add the cooked pasta, pumpkin and pangrattato to the bacon. Combine together with tongs before garnishing with a little reserved pangrattato and Parmesan cheese.