Yes, I did say Crouton! Get it on!
Are you longing for rustic Italian charm? Would you rather be known as Mama Leoni instead of just Mama Rigatoni?
I know this appears to look like another plain old pasta dish with meat sauce but it's not. It's really Not! It's made with croutons and red peppers (and some other stuff), but no meat in this one. Sneaky, huh?
It's a fan-tabulous celebration about what's good in your mouth. A textural taste-o-rama is probably a better description.
This is a great throw together dish that takes minutes to make and will bring a little bit of life to your weeknight table. It's a great side dish too.
So let's get started, it's almost dinner time for gosh sakes!
This is all you need to take your weeknight meal plan up a notch. It's not much people. Rigatoni pasta, garlic-flavored croutons, slivered almonds, roasted red bell peppers, extra-virgin-olive oil and Parmesan cheese. Let's get to work.
You'll need to get some croutons, garlic flavored. These are Super Garlic Flavored. I'm not really sure what that means.
Add 5 ounces of garlic-flavored croutons to your food processor.
Now for the slivered almonds, not silvery almonds as I used to call them.
Add 1/4 cup of slivered almonds to a nonstick pan and toast until golden brown. Watch very carefully, these turn brown quickly.
Add the toasted almonds to the food processor with the croutons.
Here's what they look like together. I know you needed to see this.
Now whir it up.....weeeeeeeeeeeeee!
Here's the finished product. Yes, you just made breadcrumbs. You didn't even know you could.
Now you will need some roasted red bell peppers. Any brand will do. I like these because they are from Napa Valley and well we know I love that place!
Here are your roasted red peppers, right out of the jar. I know, not so pretty but this really gives such a good flavor. I love them in any dish.
You will need 1 cup of chopped roasted red peppers. I like to julienne them first and then cut them into smaller pieces. However you like them is fine.
Now this is the most important part of the recipe! THE COOKING TIME FOR THE PASTA! If you look at the box it says 14 minutes to cook these giant noodles. WRONG! This pasta is way too dry at that point and hard. Because the breadcrumbs and peppers and olive oil are the sauce the pasta has to be cooked till it's soft. If it's hard, well that will be bad. Keep tasting it, just aldente will not be good enough. You need soft here, about 20 minutes.
Now add 1 lb of Rigatoni to a pot of boiling water.
Stir and cook until done. Really done. Don't forget this part.
Drain pasta into a large bowl.
Add the breadcrumb mixture to the pasta.
Now add the roasted red peppers on top...this is getting good.
Now pour 3/4 cups of Extra-Virgin Olive Oil over the pasta and all the other good stuff.
Now toss really, really well. I'm not kidding, break up all the little bread crumbs and incorporate nicely so that each bite is covered in all that rustic goodness.
Go ahead and grate some Parmesan cheese, as much as you like, to add to the top of the pasta.
Do you see all the bits of crumbs and peppers in every bit? It's really delicious. Remember, it's not creamy, it's rustic which is of course my favorite way to eat!
With a small side salad and some garlic bread, this is a meal of champions. It's very filling, so a little goes a long way!
Enjoy it! I know you will!
Rigatoni with Red Pepper, Almonds and Bread Crumbs
adapted from Giada De Laurentiis
1 pound rigatoni pasta
3 cups purchased garlic-flavored croutons (about 5 ounces)
1/4 cup slivered almonds (about 1 ounce), toasted
1 cup chopped roasted red bell peppers
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender. Make sure it is tender! If the pasta is too hard the dish will be dry. Extend the cooking time on the box and keep tasting until it is soft. Drain pasta into a large bowl.
Place the croutons and the toasted almonds in a food processor. Pulse until it becomes the texture of bread crumbs. Add the crouton and almond mixture to the hot pasta. Add the peppers and the olive oil. Toss really well, incorporating all the bread crumbs with the olive oil and serve.
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