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Giada's Orecchiette with Toasted Bread Crumbs: A Quick & Tasty Dish

Posted Dec 23 2010 5:00am
There is just something about toasted bread crumbs on top of pasta that makes my heart quiver. The crunchy crisp topping with the tender pasta beneath is the perfect textural pairing. I love my own pasta/breadcrumbs recipes, like this Lemony Capellini Pasta with Bread Crumbs, Capers & Garlic , I adored Mark Bittman's Pasta with Bacon and Bread Crumbs , and since it is Potluck week at I Heart Cooking Clubs, I thought I should give Giada's Orecchiette with Toasted Bread Crumbs a try.

I wouldn't be me if I didn't make a few changes to the recipe--based on what I like and what I had on hand. For example, I rarely have Italian breadcrumbs in the pantry but I always have panko, so I made my own Italian-style panko mix by adding dried oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary and garlic. Instead of prosciutto I used some spicier Hot Copocolla--it just gives it a bit more zip. Finally, seldom do I allow an opportunity to use my beloved capers go by, so I added some to the recipe.

This recipe can be found in "Everyday Italian" (pg. 89) or at the Food Network here .

Giada says, "Most of us think of bread crumbs as a coating for frying. But in Italian cooking, bread crumbs are also used as a main ingredient, as in this pasta dish. This recipe probably came about as a way to use up leftover stale bread--a humble inspiration for a fantastic dish. I love this dressing with orecchiette ("little ears") but any small shape will do."

Orecchiette with Toasted Bread Crumbs
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis
(Serves 4)

1 pound dried orecchiette or other small shaped pasta
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2/3 cup Italian seasoned dried bread crumbs (seasoned my own panko)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 cup finely chopped prosciutto (I used Hot Capocolla)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
(I added 2 Tbsp capers, drained)

In a large pot, bring to a boil 6 quarts of salted water. Cook pasta until al dente, about 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium-sized saute pan, heat the oil until warm. Since the bread crumbs will cook quickly, you don't want to add them into a hot pan, otherwise they can burn. Add the breadcrumbs and stir constantly. Season lightly with salt and pepper since flavored bread crumbs may already have seasoning. Saute for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Drain pasta in a colander. Working quickly, add pasta to the saute pan and stir to combine. Add Parmesan and the chopped prosciutto. Mix thoroughly. Pour into large serving bowl and garnish with chopped parsley.

Notes/Results: Quick, simple and delicious--what's not to love with this one? I did make a few changes as mentioned above that I think really added to my enjoyment of the recipe. (Gotta have me some capers.) I really like the orecchiette in this dish as the little "cups" of the ears cradle the toppings so nicely. This was on the table in a little over 20 minutes and tasted great--making it perfect for a busy weeknight meal. I will make it again.

You can check out what the other IHCC participants chose as their Potluck creations for this busy holiday week by going to the post here and following the links.

****Another Request for Votes Please (Yes it's "Cheesy!")****

It's time for me to beg for votes again! ;-) Remember my tasty little Ile De France Camembert Stuffed Sliders from a couple of months ago?! (If not, they are pictured below or you can click on the above link and go take a look--it's OK, I'll wait.)

... OK, are you back? They look pretty yummy don't they?!

So I am in the Top 10 Finalists in the Cheese Lover's Choice Fan Voting Category over at the Ile De France site and could use your vote. If you click here , it leads to the site where you can give me (Deb C. on the poll) the number of "stars" you think appropriate for my dish.(5 stars would be nice of course! lol) They were delightfully cheesy BTW--stuffed with chunks of the camembert and spread with even more camembert.

In addition to the fan voting category, they have a panel of judges looking at the recipes too and there is cheese for prizes--so kind of fun. I do appreciate your time and effort to vote during this busy holiday week. Voting is open until January 5th. Mahalo!
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