You know when there’s no food in the house? You’re working all the time and didn’t get a chance to go grocery shopping. Here in London, supermarkets are only open for a handful of hours, which I, being from New York, have forgotten every weekend since moving here 51 weekends ago.
Instead of going hungry this week, I did what all the TV chefs tell me to do: dive into that “well-stocked” pantry of mine. I recommend the challenge. It’s like putting together a jigsaw puzzle, only you get to eat the puzzle at the end.
Found: pasta, breadcrumbs, almonds, garlic, Parmesan, and rosemary, which grows on my windowsill.
I blitzed together the crumbs, garlic, rosemary, Parmesan, and almonds, with a bit of butter and toasted them in a pan. Together, they made this dry, crisp, super-fragrant delicious thing. I set them aside, and boiled up the rigatoni, reserving some pasta water after draining for an old French cooking school trick: a sauce called monté au beurre. Just put a cup of pasta water, full of salt and starch, back in the pan over high heat, and whisk in some cold butter. It creates a light, but milky, sauce, which perfectly contrasting the dryness of those crumbs.
Then it was time to toss the rigatoni into the light butter sauce and top with the crumbs and a bit of extra Parm (of course) and torn rosemary leaves.
Talk about a Frankenstein creation. But it is so good, different, and proof that unless you’re one of those people who keep only mustard in their fridge (which I totally get, by the way), it’s always possible to cobble together something great.
From my weekly column Dinner for Two on Serious Eats. Check it out every Friday!
- 1 cup breadcrumbs, preferably fresh
- 1 clove garlic
- The leaves from 1 stem of rosemary
- 3 tablespoons sliced almonds
- 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus 3 tablespoons
- 1 pound rigatoni
In the food processor, blitz together the breadcrumbs, garlic, rosemary, almonds, Parmigiano Reggiano, and salt and pepper until everything is equally combined. Add 1 tablespoon of butter, and pulse until the butter is evenly distributed into the crumbs (just don’t over blitz it, or it will turn into a ball). Place the mixture in a sauté pan over medium heat, and toast, stirring often, until the crumbs are golden brown, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the rigatoni according to package directions in a bit pot of salted water. Reserve 1 cup of cooking water before draining the al dente pasta. Add the water back to the empty pasta pot, and bring to a simmer. Cube the remaining cold butter, and whisk it in a little at a time, to create a milky emulsion. Immediately take off the heat once all the butter is incorporated. Stir in the rigatoni and season with salt and pepper. Pour into a serving bowl, and top with the breadcrumb mixture, extra Parmigiano Reggiano, and torn rosemary leaves.print this recipe