Pasta mollicata is one of the most simple and accessible Italian dishes, especially popular in Southern Italy. The dish consists of a mixture of store-cupboard ingredients, the key components being the name of the dish ‘pasta with breadcrumbs’. Due to the humble ingredients mollicata is considered a ‘poor man’s dish’ while its popularity is due the irresistible flavour, making this recipe the perfect combination of affordable and delicious. Stale breadcrumbs are given new life, toasted in olive oil until crisp and golden, then infused with ingredients such as anchovies, chilli, garlic and herbs.
The idea behind mollicata means that the dish is suitable for many variations depending on the season and ingredients available, use any humble leftovers including the addition of mushrooms, leeks, tomato, onions or nuts. Create a complete and satisfying dish in just 20 minutes for an ideal midweek meal which requires no planning ahead.
Pasta Mollicata Recipe
A luxurious pasta mollicata recipe which pairs bucatini with a decadent anchovy and breadcrumb sauce.
COOK PASTA: Fill a pot halfway with water and place on a high heat, once boiling add the pasta and salt. Cook according to packet instructions approximately 10 minutes then strain the pasta through a colander, reserving ¼ cup of cooking water.
TOAST GARLIC AND ANCHOVY: While the pasta cooks, place a saute pan on medium heat and add the olive oil. Once warm add the garlic, anchovy, a splash of the anchovy oil and chilli flakes (optional). Cook for 3 minutes until the anchovy has dissolved and garlic toasted.
TOAST BREADCRUMBS: Pour the breadcrumbs into the saute pan and toast in the olive oil until crisp and golden brown for 3 minutes.
COMBINE MOLLICATA: Transfer the cooked pasta into the saute pan along with the reserved cooking water. Stir together the ingredients then add the parsley and pecorino.
SERVE: Serve the pasta mollicata immediately whilst hot, season with fresh black pepper.