Ok, ok, so a recipe for spaghetti with breadcrumbs probably does not sound like the healthiest dinner option if you are trying to eat clean. But stick with me…
Although it was one of the authentic Italian meals I did not eat on our trip to Italy, I first learned about spaghetti with breadcrumbs on our family European summer vacation last year. Then my mom saw a recipe for it in the newspaper and after she called to tell me how amazing it was I decided I needed to get cooking.
An incredibly simple, classic dish from Southern Italy, spaghetti with breadcrumbs tosses pasta with toasted, seasoned bread crumbs called pangrattatto. The breadcrumbs soak up the salty seasoned garlic in the most delicious way you can imagine.
A big component of the breadcrumb “seasoning” comes from anchovies. If you think you don’t like anchovies, please go ahead and use them anyway in this particular dish. When they’re minced and stirred into the breadcrumbs, their distinctly salty, pungent profile mellows, and they contribute a savory quality that amplifies the flavor of the other ingredients without making the dish taste at all fishy. Trust me!
A Speedy Fast Supper
One of my favorite things about spaghetti with breadcrumbs is that it takes less than 30 minutes to put the whole thing on the table. And, with the exception of the butternut squash noodles, you probably already have everything you need to make the dish right this minute. Although you can certainly top it off with grilled shrimp or scallops, my family finds it hearty enough as-is.
But back to the whole healthy thing. How can spaghetti with breadcrumbs possibly be good for you?
How to Make a Healthy Spaghetti with Breadcrumbs Recipe
All it takes is just a few little tweaks here and there…
- Buy a super healthy spaghetti. If you saw my recent post on Chickpea Pasta, then you know I can’t get enough of Banza brand pasta made from chickpeas. But of course you also choose a more conventional wheat-based spaghetti, just look for whole grain. I also really like Ancient Harvest brand gluten free “supergrain” spaghetti. And of course if you really want to go all out, you can make your own! This homemade pasta recipe with spinach is actually easier to make than you might think (yes, seriously.)
- Use REAL extra virgin olive oil. Just because the bottle says it is “Italian” extra virgin olive oil doesn’t mean it’s the real deal. Fake extra virgin olive oil is basically pro-inflammatory vegetable oil with flavoring and color added. I first learned about olive oil fraud from a 60 Minutes feature segment a while back and since then I am very careful about the olive oil brands I buy. There are many good ones, but you can’t go wrong with California Olive Ranch brand. And don’t overheat it! The hype is true, overheating your olive oil is not good.
- Sneak in vegetables! Traditional Italian style spaghetti with breadcrumbs is not made with vegetables. But thanks to sprialized veggie pasta, you can easily sneak in all kinds of different vegetables! I personally like butternut squash noodles because I feel their texture holds up very well for this particular dish.
- Use whole grain bread. Believe it or not, you do not use a ton of bread even in a classic spaghetti with breadcrumbs recipe. In fact, each serving has less than one slice of bread. However, if you are trying to make it a clean recipe, then you definitely want to go with a healthy bread choice. If you are not gluten free, then I would go with sprouted Food for Life brand. Another great option is Berlin Natural Bakery brand sprouted spelt bread (this one has a softer texture than Food for Life brand.) And if you are gluten free, then I would go with Canyon Bakehouse Gluten Free 7-Grain bread.
- 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 6 cups spriralized butternut squash noodles
- 5 cups cooked whole grain OR garbanzo bean spaghetti (I like Banza brand)
- Himalayan pink salt, to taste
- 4 slices whole grain bread (see brand name recommendations in blog post)
- 2 teaspoons crushed garlic
- 10 anchovies, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 cup minced parsley, patted very dry
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large saucepan over medium heat; add the butternut squash noodles and cook until slightly softened, about 3 minutes or so. Stir in the cooked spaghetti and gently toss to mix the noodles together. Season with salt to taste. Transfer the noodle mixture to 4 serving plates (or bowls.)
- Add the bread slices to a large food processor and pulse several times until you have coarse breadcrumbs. Set breadcrumbs aside.
- Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of oil to the same saucepan used to cook the noodles. Heat the oil over medium heat; add the garlic, anchovies, Dijon mustard and crushed red pepper and saute until garlic softens, about 2 minutes. Add in the breadcrumbs and toast, stirring constantly, for about 4 to 5 minutes, or until breadcrumbs are lightly browned and crisp.
- Add the parsley and lemon zest to the breadcrumb mixture and cook for about 1 minute. Season with salt to taste.
- Divide the breadcrumb mixture over the spaghetti bowls and serve at once. Note: In all likelihood you will have leftover breadcrumbs. Leftovers can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours. Use leftovers on top of salads, soups or vegetable pasta.