When it comes to fast dinners for one you can’t beat pasta. There’s no letting meat come to room temperature, no need to think ahead enough to marinade, you can keep it simple enough that there’s minimal chopping and sautéing—usually the longest part is waiting for the water to come to a boil, which is the opportune time to do whatever prep work you may have.
This one is perhaps one of the speediest. It’s humble in its ingredients but not quite so in flavor. Pungent, briny, lip-puckering capers get a quick trip in some very hot oil until their salty-sharpness is highlighted with a toasted bronze. Then there’s the breadcrumbs.
I know it probably sounds strange to put breadcrumbs on pasta, but trust me. They’re actually a substitution for Parmigiano—they give a similar texture, experience and, and by salting them, flavor as the cheese. I guess you could say it’s an old trick from Italy as part of cucina povera—peasant food. For those that couldn’t afford the luxury of Parmigiano, a sprinkling of toasted crumbs made from dirt-cheap day old bread just had to do. Frankly, I don’t think it’s a bad substitution—the crisp, salty grains against the al dente-soft pasta, and little crispy, but still fleshy, bursts of capers all just work so well together.
If you really want something different and oh-so-good, grow some nasturtium in the summer, harvest the tender jade seeds, and pickled them per The Splendid Table instructions for the perfectly radish flavored, but floral, variation of traditional capers. So good.
And I don’t want to hear anything about the amount of pasta in the recipe. Just think of it as second helpings built right in.
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