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Giada's Rigatoni with Red Pepper, Almonds and Bread Crumbs

Posted Feb 18 2011 6:00am
This week's I Heart Cooking Clubs theme is "Using Your Noodle"--all things pasta from Giada. I chose her Rigatoni with Red Pepper, Almonds and Bread Crumbs because it is a fast and easy from the pantry dish and because I am always looking for ways to reduce the meat and dairy in my diet and this sauceless pasta with it's breadcrumb topping sounded like a tasty way to do that.

The recipe has just five ingredients but I added two more that I think really add a lot to the dish--capers and a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes. I used a box of Barilla Mezzi Rigatoni which is slightly shorter than regular rigatoni--all the better to hold those delicious bites of almonds and bread crumbs.


You can find the recipe at Food Network here or in " Everyday Pasta " on page 150. As usual my changes are in red below.

Giada says,"The secret ingredient in this dish is the garlicky croutons. I buy good-quality prepackaged garlic croutons from a local bakery and keep them in my pantry for emergencies (I also have been known to snack on them from time to time). You can certainly make them from scratch, but in this dish, it's fine to substitute store-bought if you have a good source. I love the almondy and garlicky flavor the crumbs give the pasta."


Rigatoni with Red Pepper, Almonds, and Bread Crumbs
Recipe Courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis
(Makes 4-6 Servings)
Prep Time: 7 min / Cook Time: 8 min

1 pound rigatoni pasta
3 cups purchased garlic-flavored croutons, (about 5 ounces)
1/4 cup slivered almonds (about 1 ounce), toasted
1 cup julienned roasted red bell peppers
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (I reduced to 1/2 cup)
(added 1/4 cup capers, drained)
(added 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta into a large bowl.

Place the croutons and the almonds in a food processor. Pulse until they are finely chopped, with the texture of bread crumbs. Add the crouton and almond mixture to the hot pasta. Add the peppers, capers, red pepper flakes and the olive oil. Toss to combine and serve.


Notes/Results: I really liked this one--great texture and good flavor. I think the key here is using the best quality, flavorful breadcrumbs you can find or make to give the topping lots of flavor. I bought a bag of what my local grocery store bakery calls "garlic chips"--very garlicky croutons made with their french bread which worked well and made a soft, crumbly topping. I did reduce the olive oil from 3/4 cup to 1/2 cup--my garlic chips had a lot of olive oil on them already and I didn't feel like it needed all of it. I liked the addition of the capers, they combined well with the red peppers for a little extra tang, and the kick of heat from the red pepper flakes was a nice touch. I topped it with some sliced almonds for a little texture. A great tasting and satisfying dish even without any added protein or cheese (not that some sausage wouldn't be a nice addition too). ;-) I would make it again.

You can see how the other IHCC participants used their noodles by going to the site here and following the links.

Happy Friday!
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