This is a bold and sassy recipe for pasta with fried red chile peppers and bread crumbs.
It is a traditional recipe from the region in Southern Italy known as Basilicata. A special pepper is grown there called peperone di Senise; a sweet red pepper with a flavor much like a mild red Mexican chile.
I used arbol chiles and replaced the country bread called for in the recipe with Italian bread.
The bread is baked until dry and crunchy, processed into chunky crumbs and then pan-fried in olive oil to a toasty, golden-brown.
I fell in love with them.
My mind keeps winding back to them and the possibilities. The technique will show up in my recipes again. And again. Just look at the way the bread crumbs stick into all the nooks and crevices.
The peppers are then pan-fried in olive oil to a rich, dark burgundy color that infuses the oil with spice to cook the tomatoes in.
The original recipe calls for cherry tomatoes that I replaced with canned, diced tomatoes. They are cooked along with garlic and anchovies until soft and are mashed gently with a fork into a thick sauce.
The sauce is tossed with the pasta allowing the infused spice to permeate the entire dish.
The bread crumbs are sprinkled over top along with broken up pieces of the crispy chile peppers.
It all works together to make one of the most outstanding pasta dishes that has ever graced my lips.
It’s the kind of rustic dish that I can imagine my Great-Grandma cooking, even though she was from Abruzzo.
She and my Great-Grandpa grew their own chile peppers, figs, grapes and all kind of other fruits and vegetables that as a little girl I thought were exotic. None of my friends or neighbors had grapes growing in their backyard.
Her and Great-Grandpa brought their own ‘special’ seeds with them from Italy. They stepped ‘off the boat’ with naught else but their beloved heirloom seeds.
|While I was immersed in picture taking Moon saw it as an opportunity to sneak up on me… and the pasta!|
1. Heat oven to 325˚. Bake bread cubes until hard, about 15 minutes, keeping a close eye on them. Transfer to a food processor; process into coarse crumbs. Heat 1⁄4 cup oil in a 12″ skillet over medium heat. Add crumbs; cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, 8–10 minutes. Transfer crumbs to a bowl.
2. Wipe out skillet; heat remaining oil over medium-high heat. Add chiles and toast, turning once, about 45 seconds. Transfer to a plate; let cool. Tear chiles into 1″ pieces. Reserve oil in skillet.
3. Set reserved skillet over medium heat and add anchovies (if using); cook, breaking them apart with a wooden spoon, for 1 minute. If not using anchovies add garlic, tomatoes and Worcestershire/fish sauce; cover; cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes soften, about 10 minutes. Mash tomatoes with a fork right in skillet and season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.
4. Meanwhile cook pasta to al dente in plenty of salted water. Drain, reserving 1⁄4 cup water. Transfer pasta and water to reserved skillet of tomatoes over high heat. Toss to combine; cook until sauce thickens, 1–2 minutes. Transfer pasta to a platter; sprinkle with bread crumbs and chiles; drizzle with a little oil and serve with fresh grated Parmesan.
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