Spaghetti with walnuts and herbed crumbs
Spaghetti gets a delicious covering of flavor from lots of fresh herbs, walnuts, and Parmesan.
This pasta dish doesn't need a sauce. Rather, an herby walnut dressing contributes bright flavors and texture. To save time, first prepare the herby crumbs, and while they're baking to crisp perfection in the oven, get the walnut dressing ready. You'll still have time to cook the spaghetti while the crumbs are baking. The whole thing takes an hour from scratch, but if you bake the crumbs ahead of time, you can put the dish on the table in 20 minutes. The baked crumbs will keep a day in a dry, tightly closed container. If needed, crispen them up again in the oven for a few minutes, just before serving.
- 2 cups fresh bread chopped into chunks
- 1 cup parsley leaves, or scallions, or cilantro, or a mix of those
- 1 large chopped garlic clove
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 package good-quality spaghetti
- 2 cups chopped parsley
- 1 cup chopped basil leaves
- 2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts
- 1 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- More grated Parmesan to pass around
- Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
For the herbed crumbs:
For the spaghetti:
Whizz all the crumb ingredients in the food processor until you have loose crumbs. Careful not to go too far and get a ball of dough. Food processors can be treacherous.
Turn the oven on to 160° F (70° C). Distribute the crumbs over a baking sheet and bake for one hour. Stir once or twice to make sure they bake evenly.
Cook the spaghetti in plenty of boiling salted water according to package instructions.
In the meantime, chop the parsley and basil. Measure to make sure you have the correct amounts. Then chop the walnuts onto the greens – a simple way to anchor them and prevent them from flying all over the kitchen as you chop. Or, take your food processor out and do it all in there. The danger with that is that you might absent-mindedly keep the machine whizzing away so that you wind up with pesto instead of chopped leaves and nuts. I speak of this from experience.
Drain the pasta, but leave a couple of tablespoons of cooking water in the pot.
Return the pasta to the pot and add the chopped greens and walnuts and Parmesan, mixing. Dribble the olive oil throughout. Season to taste and mix again.
Divide the pasta into 4 serving dishes. Scatter herbed crumbs generously over each serving.
Pass the extra parmesan around for those who like it. Sit down and enjoy.
Adapted from Al Hashulchan Magazine.