Breadcrumbs on pasta are known as the poor man’s cheese; they are often used as a great substitute for cheese for lactose-sensitive individuals. They bring a nice crunch to the pasta and are quite popular in the southern regions of Italy, such as Sicily, Calabria, and Basilicata.
- Kosher salt
- 1 (3-to-4-inch) chunk day-old country bread
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1 pound spaghetti
- 12 good-quality anchovy fillets, drained
- 4 garlic cloves, sliced
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or 1 or 2 dried Calabrian chiles, crumbled)
- ¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta. Grate the bread on the large holes of a box grater (or pulse in a processor) to make ¾ cup coarse crumbs.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add the breadcrumbs and cook, tossing frequently, until light golden and crisp, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
Add the spaghetti to the boiling water. Heat the remaining ¼ cup olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the anchovies and garlic, and cook until the anchovies dissolve into the oil and the garlic is golden, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the peperoncino. Ladle in 2 cups of pasta cooking water and let simmer rapidly. Reduce to about 1 cup while the pasta cooks.
Once the pasta is al dente, remove with tongs and add to the sauce. Add the parsley and toss to coat the pasta with the sauce, adding a little more pasta water if it seems dry. Add the bread crumbs and toss to mix.