Dinner Tonight: St. Joseph's Sawdust with Pasta

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

I know sawdust doesn't sound the least bit appetizing, but don't worry—this only looks like wood shavings. It's actually a highly flavored recipe with bread crumbs from John Besh's My New Orleans, and I couldn't wait to try it with pasta. The crumbs easily soak up whatever tossed on them—which in this recipe included pine nuts, parmesan, dried currents, cinnamon, crushed red pepper flakes, and oregano—making for a cheap and tasty meal.

It was only after I had combined the pasta and the bread crumb mixture that I realized the sawdust was just one component of a much more complex recipe. I was missing a horribly intense ragu! But by that point I didn't care.

This may not have been what Besh originally called for, but it's quick and astonishingly delicious recipe. The balance of sweet and spice makes for a layered and rich bite, even if most of the ingredients come from the pantry.

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Dinner Tonight: St. Joseph's Sawdust with Pasta

About This Recipe

Yield:4

Ingredients

  • 1 pound spaghetti or bucatini
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 3 tablespoons grated parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons dried currants
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch oregano leaves, chopped
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch black pepper

Procedures

  1. 1

    Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. Reserve a 1/4 cup of pasta water. Drain the pasta.

  2. 2

    Meanwhile, add the rest of the ingredients to a food processor. Pulse six or eight times until well combined.

  3. 3

    Dump the crumb mixture into large skillet set over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring often, until the mixture is warm, about a minute. Add the pasta to the skillet. Sprinkle a little of the pasta water in and toss until coated.

  4. 4

    Serve the pasta with a drizzle of more olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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