The inspiration for this dish comes via Sicily, where something similar was traditionally made for San Giuseppe’s Day; the crumbs are meant to represent sawdust from the ancient carpenter’s workshop. While cooking with sawdust seems almost too appropriate when talking about food waste, the seasoned, butter-toasted breadcrumbs bear only the vaguest visual resemblance to wood shavings. You can customize this dish easily to taste using different cheeses or green vegetables. Roasted leftover asparagus or broccolini are excellent choices. If you like anchovies, add one with the garlic and red pepper flakes.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup coarse breadcrumbs
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 8 ounces spaghetti
- 2 to 4 handfuls baby spinach, arugula, mizuna, or other tender greens
- 2 tablespoons butter
- red pepper flakes
- grated Parmesan or other cheese, for serving
Heat the oil in a medium skillet set over medium heat. Once it’s warm, add the garlic and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds, until it is pale gold. Stir in the breadcrumbs and season to taste with salt and pepper. Toast the crumbs, stirring regularly, until they are evenly golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil over high heat. Cook thespaghetti according to the package directions (usually 8 to 10 minutes). While the spaghetti cooks, put the spinach in a colander and set the colander in the sink. When the spaghetti is cooked, pour it into the colander to drain; the greens should wilt instantly.
Melt the butter in a saucepan set over medium heat. Once it sizzles and begins to brown, stir in the spaghetti and greens. Toss with tongs to coat the spaghetti in the butter and season to taste with red pepper flakes and additional black pepper. Divide the pasta and greens between two pasta bowls and top each with the seasoned breadcrumbs and Parmesan. Serve hot.