Pasta with Butter and Breadcrumb Sauce

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We have had a couple of probably-unnecessary-but-very-much-appreciated winter weather days.  We were supposed to get snow and/or ice.  Lots of parts of Louisiana did get some really nasty weather.  We didn’t.  But we still got two days off of school, so I’ll take it!

Yesterday, I got up early and made a big pot of gumbo.  It was awesome.  One of my very favorite cold weather foods.  I’m making taco soup for dinner – another favorite – but I had to make something for lunch.  Even though the roads are fine, I had absolutely no desire to go to the store.  So I started rooting through the pantry and came up with this winner.

If you’ve never made a butter and breadcrumb sauce for your pasta, you’ve really been missing out!  It’s a velvety, rich sauce that will leave you asking why you’ve always used tomato-based sauces.  This dish came together in under 20 minutes.

Pasta with Butter and Breadcrumb Sauce

  • 1 pound of mezzi rigatoni, cooked and drained
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 2 tablespoons of basil paste
  • 12-oz. jar of roasted red bell peppers, drained and roughly chopped
  • 14-oz. can of artichoke hearts, drained and roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic salt
  • 1 cup of plain breadcrumbs
  • 2 cups of pasta cooking water
  • 1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions in salted water.  While pasta is cooking, melt butter in a large skillet.  Add basil paste, peppers, artichoke hearts, and garlic salt.  Sautee for a few minutes until vegetables are warmed through.  Add the breadcrumbs and stir to combine.  Add the starchy pasta water, a half-cup at a time.  Stir until mixture is combined and thickened.  Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan.

Drain pasta and add to the sauce mixture, stirring to combine.

Well Duh #1:  Basil paste can be found in the produce section of the grocery store.  I like to keep it in the refrigerator because it “keeps” for a long time.  I also usually have garlic paste, ginger paste, and cilantro paste.  If you can’t find it, use the same amount of finely-chopped fresh basil.

Well Duh #2:  You can use any variety of hearty pasta for this dish.  Penne, radiotore, or any other thicker pasta.  Try to use one that has ridges on it so the sauce can really stick to it.

Well Duh #3:  It really is important to use the starchy cooking water from the pasta pot and not just plain water.  The starch will help the sauce to thicken.

Well Duh #4:  Fresh breadcrumbs won’t really work in this recipe.  I use the dry ones that come in a tall container.

This really hit the spot on this cold winter day!

We’ll be back in school tomorrow, but these past two days have been a great respite from the hustle and bustle of our regular school days.  It’s nice to just slow down sometimes.

And eat!

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