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Penne with Basil and Pine Nuts

To make fresh bread crumbs, use day-old bread, ideally from a baguette or country loaf. Alternatively, dry fresh slices in a 300°F oven for about 10 minutes. Tear the bread into large pieces and process in a food processor to make crumbs.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbs. salt, plus more, to taste
  • 1 lb. penne
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 6 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 cup fine bread crumbs (see note above)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 lb. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
  • 2/3 cup slivered fresh basil leaves
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions:

Cook the pasta
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the 2 Tbs. salt and the pasta. Cook, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until the pasta is al dente (tender but firm to the bite), according to the package instructions. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.

Prepare the sauce
Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, toast the pine nuts, stirring often, until fragrant and golden, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl.

Warm 1 Tbs. of the olive oil in the pan, add the bread crumbs, and stir until toasted and golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Add to the bowl with the pine nuts and stir to mix.

Reduce the heat to medium and warm 1 Tbs. of the olive oil in the pan. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the wine and red pepper flakes, bring to a boil and simmer until slightly reduced, about 2 minutes.

Finish the dish
Add the hot pasta along with the remaining 4 Tbs. olive oil to the wine sauce in the pan and stir to coat the pasta. Add the bread crumb mixture, the cheese and basil and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Divide among shallow bowls and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast Series, Simple Suppers, by Melanie Barnard (Oxmoor House, 2007).