Herby Spaghetti with Crispy Breadcrumb Topping

My youngest asked for spaghetti for dinner. Fine says I. I fancied a robust tomato sauce packed with herbs and garlic. But then I had a little hankering for a spaghetti with garlicky breadcrumbs. Tomato sauce or crispy breadcrumbs? A hefty dilemma for a Monday night…decided on both. We’ll have a lovely tomato sauce and scatter over crunchy, garlic infused breadcrumbs. Oh the decadence.

I’m definitely not a multi task kinda gal so I prepared each element before moving on to the next. I made the sauce and while it was bubbling away I got on with the breadcrumbs then left them to the side while the spaghetti bubbled away.

This was a delicious triumph and wonderfully quick & easy to pull together. I’d recommend throwing a quick salad together as this is not big on the veg count.

Herby Spaghetti with Crunchy Breadcrumbs

Serves 4 – 5

Ingredients

For the tomato sauce

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • About 2 tablespoons of fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • A teaspoon of chilli flakes
  • A teaspoon of dried sage
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • A tablespoon of plain flour
  • A tablespoon of milk
  • Salt and pepper

For the garlic breadcrumbs

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • A thick doorstep of stale bread, whizzed into breadcrumbs or grated
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • Salt
  • 500g spaghetti
  • Parmesan cheese to serve

Method

  • First of all, get the sauce on: heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan and add your rosemary and garlic. Stir it around for a minute or so then pour over the tomatoes and add the sage and chilli flakes.
  • Pop a lid on the pan and simmer for about 25 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, heat a tablespoon of oil in a small frying pan and gently cook your breadcrumbs and garlic with a pinch of salt until crisp and golden. Don’t turn the heat up too high or the garlic will burn and taste acrid. Once crisp, just leave to the side.
  • While this is happening, cook your spaghetti.
  • Once the sauce has had its simmer time, stir the flour with a couple of tablespoons of water then stir this flour mixture into the sauce along with the milk. Cook, without the lid on, for a final 5 minutes. Season to your liking.
  • Drain the cooked spaghetti and stir through the lovely herby sauce.
  • Serve with a generous scattering of crispy breadcrumbs, a good grating of parmesan and a gorgeous salad.

Herby Roasted Gnocci With Broccoli and Tomatoes

I have become obsessed with roasting my meals of a weekend. I’ve got a bit more time on my hands than during the week but I don’t always want to stand watch over a bubbling pan. Pretty much anything you can cook on the hob can be chucked in the oven.

What I love about the roasting method is the effortless ease with which you prepare your meal: a bit of chopping, chucking of ingredients into tin then closing the oven door and toddling off to do something more interesting…painting a masterpiece / solving climate change / sipping an aperitif. And what’s more, the flavours become deeper, richer and the whole dish is resultingly more satisfying. Give it a whirl, you won’t look back.

Herby Roasted Gnocci with Broccoli & Tomatoes

Serves 4 – 5

Ingredients

  • 2 x 500g bags of gnocci
  • 1 large head of broccoli, chopped
  • A punnet of cherry tomatoes
  • About a tablespoon of fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
  • A heaped teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed or finely grated
  • 1 teaspoon of chilli flakes (I love aleppo or pul biber)
  • 3 – 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to your taste
  • A few dollops of excellent pesto
  • A few small dollops of full fat cream cheese, or ricotta if you prefer
  • A generous grating of parmesan cheese

Method

  • First of all preheat your oven to 200 C / gas 7.
  • Pour your gnocci into a pan and cover with boiling water. Leave it to stand for just a couple of minutes then drain immediately.
  • Now tumble the gnocci, broccoli, tomatoes, herbs, garlic, chilli. olive oil, salt and pepper into a large roasting tin and give it a good toss so that everything is coated in the herbs and chilli.
  • Pop the tin in the oven and roast for about half an hour, by which time the gnocci will have developed some beautiful crispy bits and will be golden in colour.
  • Before serving, dollop over the pesto and cream cheese. Have a little taste and if you think it needs it add more salt, pepper or chilli flakes.
  • Dive in.