Blessed are the recipes that shock. And this pasta from the mountainous region of Basilicata in Italy is a stroke of genius and a surprising, rare find.
Tucked in the pages of the superb cookbook Jamie Cooks Italy by Jamie Oliver, which features wonderful recipes from around the country and highlights the enormous culinary contributions of grandmothers, is a gem. This particular recipe is rare and beautiful, and for something born out of cucina povera (poor cooking), it is an unexpected kashrut masterpiece.
The recipe replicates the tang of Parmesan by utilizing freshly grated horseradish. Parm being too expensive for an everyday meal, so frying breadcrumbs, red chilli flakes, and horseradish create a remarkable alliance that is completely delicious. It both reminds one of Parmesan and also creates something new. This recipe is perfect on its own, or if like me, you miss combining cheese and meat, you can have this at the same time as a steak. I do that, and I sometimes dream about it. Also, it’s excellent to make just after Passover when there is still fresh horseradish kicking around and pasta is back on the menu.
Aa Jamie explains below it is a very special recipe, one that I was blown away by when I came across it, and now I cook regularly. Thank you, Nonna Teresa, for sharing.
Nonna Teresa's Crispy Horseradish & Chili Bread Crumbs Pasta
A good pangrattato (flavored crispy bread crumbs) has the ability to add not only flavor, but also incredible texture to a meal. The use of horseradish here is very unusual, yet very delicious and makes total sense, as it was one of the few vegetables growing locally to Teresa. Dishes like this respect the scarcity of ingredients.
- 10 oz dried bucatini or rigatoni
- olive oil
- 1/2 cup corse bread crumbs
- 1 teaspoon dried red chili flakes
- 2 inches fresh horseradish
- 2 gloves of garlic
- 1/2 a bunch of fresh thyme (1/2 oz)
- 2 dried red peppers or 8 sun-dried tomatoes
- extra virgin olive oil
- Cook the pasta in a pan of boiling salted water according to the package instructions, then drain, reserving a cupful of starchy cooking water.
- Meanwhile, for the pangrattato, put two tablespoons of olive oil into a large frying pan on a medium-high heat with the bread crumbs and chili flakes. Peel and finely grate in the horseradish, then fry for five minutes, or until crisp, stirring regularly. Tip into a bowl and put aside.
- Return the frying pan to a medium heat with two tablespoons of olive oil.
- Peel, finely slice and add the garlic, strip in the thyme leaves, then tear in the red peppers, discarding the seeds. Fry for just one minute, then toss in the drained pasta, loosened with a little reserved cooking water, if needed.
- Season to perfection, divide between warm bowls, drizzle lightly with extra virgin olive oil and generously sprinkle over the pangrattato.