penne con acciughe, capperi e mollica

penne with anchovies, capers and toasted breadcrumbs


1     pound penne or pennette
4     cloves chopped garlic
8     anchovy filets
1/4  cup capers
1/4  cup parsley
1/4  cup toasted breadcrumbs (mollica)
1/2  cup extra virgin olive oil
        sea salt
        crushed red chili pepper (optional)

toasted breadcrumbs

Coarsely grate the stale bread over a large mixing
bowl, remove any large pieces, then lightly coat a
saute pan with olive oil and allow the pan to heat over
moderate flame. Add the breadcrumbs, and stir
frequently to prevent sticking or burning. When they
are evenly toasted to a golden brown, remove from
the pan and set aside to cool.

This recipe calls for at least 1/4 cup, but make as much
as you like as they can be used for other recipes, or for
added crunch to a salad.

You can use plain packaged breadcrumbs from the
market, but the quality will not be as good as
homemade, and are too fine for this pasta dish.
Before the days of
 food processors, my mother and
grandmother made breadcrumbs by placing stale bread
inside a paper bag and pounding the bag with the side of
an empty wine bottle. It still works, and I prefer this
tecnique to a food processor.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, add the penne, stirring
occasionally to prevent the pasta from sticking.

Prepare the toasted breadcrumbs as described in the recipe
below. Chop the parsley very fine and coarsely chop the garlic, then
rinse the capers.

Heat the olive oil along with the garlic in a large sauté pan over
moderate heat, allow the garlic to cook for a few moments, then
add the anchovies, mashing them in the pan. Add about 2
tablespoons of pasta water to prevent the garlic from cooking any
further, and then toss in the capers. Check for salt intensity and
sprinkle in the crushed chili pepper if desired. Set aside.

When the pasta is al dente, strain the penne, then return the sauté
pan to the burner over moderate heat and immediately toss in the
pasta. Add the parsley, toasted breadcrumbs and chili pepper, if
desired, stir and evenly combine with the pasta.

Transfer to a large serving bowl or individual bowls, and serve.
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                                                            the food of the eolian islands and sicily