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Melissa Clark’s Go-To Last-Minute Family Dinner: Garlicky Crumb-y Pasta Recipe

In a recent interview with Kveller, New York Times food writer, cookbook author, and Jewish mama Melissa Clark shared with us her family’s favorite last-minute meal: a delicious, garlicky pasta.

This easy recipe, courtesy of her newest cookbook, Kid in the Kitchen, can be quickly assembled with pantry staples. It’s the perfect weeknight dinner in these pandemic times; add it to your family’s dinner repertoire tonight!

Garlicky, Crumb-y Pasta

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Kosher salt, as needed

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

6 garlic cloves, minced

4 to 8 oil-packed anchovy fillets, chopped

Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

1 cup / 60 grams panko or other unseasoned bread crumbs

1 pound spaghetti, linguine, or other pasta

4 tablespoons / ½ stick / 57 grams unsalted butter

½ cup / 6 grams chopped fresh parsley leaves

Lemon wedges, for serving

Flaky sea salt, for serving

Freshly ground black pepper, for serving

Directions:

Put a colander in the sink.

Put a plate next to the stove for the bread crumbs.

Set out all your ingredients.

  1. Fill a pot with water for the pasta, then stir in enough kosher salt to make it taste like seawater (nicely salty, but not too salty). Place the pot on high heat and let the water come to a boil while you start to make the topping (it will take a while to boil).
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet set over medium-high heat, heat the oil and for about 20 seconds. It will thin out as it heats, but it shouldn’t get hot enough to smoke. Stir in the garlic, anchovies, and red pepper flakes if using. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Keep an eye on it — garlic burns really quickly. If the garlic starts to turn brown, pull the pan off the heat to let it cool down for a few seconds. The anchovies will have mostly dissolved in the oil.
  3. Stir in the bread crumbs and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the bread crumbs are golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Using a large spoon, transfer the bread crumbs to the plate.
  4. When the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook until it is just shy of al dente, about 2 minutes less than the package directions. To test it, grab a piece with a fork and run it under cool water before tasting. Using a measuring cup or a mug, scoop out about a cup of the pasta water and put it aside to use in the next step. Carefully drain the pasta in the colander.
  5. In the same pot you cooked the pasta in, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Whisk in ¾ cup of the reserved pasta water and bring it to a simmer. Simmer for 1 minute to reduce the sauce, then turn off the heat. Add the pasta and the parsley, and toss to coat. Let simmer for another 30 seconds to 1 minute to heat through and finish cooking the pasta. Add a splash more pasta water if the pasta seems dry.
  6. Right before serving, toss about three quarters of the bread crumbs with the pasta until well distributed. Divide the pasta among four bowls, and top with the remaining bread crumbs, a squeeze of lemon juice, a sprinkle of flaky sea salt, and lots of black pepper.

Header image by David Malosh. Recipe reprinted with permission from Kid in the Kitchen

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