SPAGHETTI WITH FRESH TOMATO & ROCKET SERVED WITH CRISPY BREADCRUMBS (Serves 4)
Tomatoes are plentiful now and together with a handful of rocket they combine to make this quick and easy Italian pasta dish. It may sound odd to serve pasta with breadcrumbs rather than grated Parmesan cheese, but this was traditional in some of the poorer parts of southern Italy. Of course, you could mix some Parmesan cheese with the crumbs if you wish!
350g / 12oz spaghetti
350g / 12oz cherry tomatoes or 4 large home-grown or vine-ripened tomatoesa
1 large clove garlic, peeled
a pinch or two of chilli flakes
approx. 12 small black olives
salt and black pepper
a generous handful of rocket
For the crispy breadcrumbs:
1 thick slice of stale ciabiata bread or similar
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
2-3 tblsps olive oil
2 tsps finely chopped parsley
Halve the cherry tomatoes or chop the large tomatoes into rough chunks and place in a large bowl. Crush the garlic with a little salt and add to the tomatoes, together with the chilli flakes and olives. Season with black pepper and drizzle with about 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Stir to combine and set aside.
Blitz the bread in a food processor to make into crumbs. Gently heat the oil in a frying pan and add the crushed garlic, frying for only a few moments, as you do not want it to brown. Add the bread crumbs and fry over a low heat, turning them frequently, until they are golden and crisp. Stir in the parsley and fry for a moment longer. Set aside.
Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Add the spaghetti and cook for 9-10 minutes or until al dente. Drain well then add the hot pasta to the tomato mixture. Add the rocket and stir to combine all the ingredients. Check the seasoning, adding a little more olive oil, salt and pepper if needed. Serve in warm pasta bowls and sprinkle with the crispy breadcrumbs just before serving.