Zia Margherita’s Bread Pasta
Updated: Mar 1
During our southern Italian Christmas, we enjoyed a delicious meal created by Zia Margherita called ‘Bread Pasta’. I had never heard of it before let alone eaten it. It was unlike any other pasta I had ever eaten before. I was so intrigued by this dish because firstly there were other Italians at the table who had never eaten it before. It was a reminder for me as to how regional Italian cuisine is. Secondly it was divine in its simplicity and a wonderful example how you do not need many ingredients to make something that tastes so mouth-wateringly good.
I had to do a little googling to find out that the official name of this dish is ‘pasta mollicata’ which basically translates to pasta with breadcrumbs. This is a traditional Basilicata dish that is prepared all over the South of Italy. It is still referred to as a ‘poor dish’ because it dates to a time of extreme poverty when Italian housewives who were geniuses in the kitchen had to make do with the ingredients they had. Bread pasta was a great way of using up the stale bread from the week.
Like most ‘poor dishes’ pasta mollicata has many seasonal variations. It was always cheaper and made much more sense to use what was in season. For example, leeks could be used instead of nuts and depending on the time of year, nuts or mushrooms could be added to the basic mixture.
The night we had this Zia Margherita made two versions. One for me that was vegan and another one that might have had some sort of fish added to it. I have tried to stay as true to her recipe that she described to me as I possibly could. Though I think I might have added onions. To Zia Margherita I say, thank you for the delicious meal.
Zia Margherita's Bread Pasta
A delicious pasta dish from Southern Italy.
Servings: 8 people
1 cup olive oil
400 gram breadcrumbs
130 gram capers
1 large onion finely diced
150 gram kalamata olives pitted and finely sliced
500 gram pasta of your choice
Heat olive oil in pan and sauté onion until translucent.
Add breadcrumbs and sauté for approximately 15 minutes until browned.
Bring pot of water to the boil.
Add capers and olives to breadcrumb mixture.
Drain pasta, keeping aside some of the pasta water.
Add pasta to breadcrumb mixture and use a spoonful or two of pasta water to loosen mixture. Serve immediately.