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Spaghetti with Broccoli, Chile, and Fried Breadcrumbs

(recipe, Tamasin Day-Lewis)

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Pasta and breadcrumbs may not immediately seem appealing, but "cucina povera" (peasant food) is a fact of life in Italy, whether you are impoverished or rich. In poorer regions, such as Puglia and much of southern Italy, people eat the same food whatever their income, which says a lot about both the people and the food, and all to the good. If you can't afford Parmesan, pecorino, or meat, your pasta can still be dressed in its best with sautéed breadcrumbs and a few flavorings. You may or may not wish to add a little anchovy and some pine nuts.


  1. 1 lb. broccoli
  2. 1 lb. whole-wheat or ordinary spaghetti
  3. Salt
  4. 4 to 5 Tbsp. best olive oil
  5. 3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  6. 2 tsp. dried chile flakes or 1 dried Kashmiri chile, crumbled
  7. 1 thick slice stale, good brown or white bread, crusts removed, blended to crumbs
  8. 4 anchovies, minced (optional)
  9. ¼ cup pine nuts (optional)


  1. Trim the broccoli and break into florets as necessary. I also use the parts of the stem that aren't tough, peeling and slicing them into disks.
  2. Add the spaghetti to a pot of well-salted boiling water and cook until al dente.
  3. Meanwhile, very gently warm 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet with the sliced garlic and chile.
  4. In another skillet, heat 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil. When hot, throw in the breadcrumbs and stir to coat. Turn the heat down and keep shifting the crumbs around in the pan until they are golden and crunchy; they must not darken.
  5. In the meantime, throw the broccoli into a pot of fast-boiling water and cook for 3 minutes or until just tender.
  6. Add the anchovies and pine nuts to the garlic and chile pan, if you are using them. Drain the broccoli, refresh under cold water, and throw into the pan, too, stirring to mix with the other ingredients. You may need a little more oil at this stage.
  7. Drain the pasta, retaining a little water and pour in into the garlic, chile, and broccoli, Toss to combine, then throw in the crumbs and turn to coat. Serve from the pan.