This is one of those “I have nothing in the refrigerator” dishes. Well, look in the cupboard. Capers, the small unopened buds of the caper bush, have been used for thousands of years. They are mentioned as an ingredient in the Gilgamesh, possibly the oldest written story known, which describes events dating back to about 2000 B.C., found on ancient Sumerian clay tablets.
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for pasta pot
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup coarse bread crumbs (see note)
- 6 garlic cloves, sliced
- 2 pounds ripe fresh tomatoes, cored and chopped into ½-inch pieces
- 3.5-ounce jar capers, drained
- ¼ teaspoon peperoncino flakes
- 1 pound spaghetti
- 10 large fresh basil leaves shredded
- ½ cup grated Grana Padano
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for pasta.
Heat ½ cup of the olive oil in a large skillet. Toss in the bread crumbs, and toast until they are crisp, about 3 to 4 minutes. Scoop out the bread crumbs with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Now add the sliced garlic to the skillet and cook, over medium heat. Once the garlic is sizzling, add the chopped tomatoes, caper, salt, and peperoncino. Adjust heat, and cook until the tomatoes break down and give off their juices, and the sauce reduces, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Slip the spaghetti into the boiling water. When the spaghetti is al dente and the sauce is ready, remove the spaghetti with tongs from the pot and add directly to the sauce. Sprinkle on the shredded basil, and drizzle in remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Toss to coat the pasta with the sauce. Remove from heat, and sprinkle with the grated cheese. Toss, and transfer to serving bowls or plates. Sprinkle with the reserved bread crumbs, and serve.
NOTE: To make the coarse bread crumbs, grate a piece of stale country bread on the large holes of a box grater.