What is Pasta Mollicata?
Pasta mollicata is a very straightforward meal made with pasta and toasted breadcrumbs. This simple Italian dish is prevalent in Southern Italy. Even though it incorporates everyday pantry items, the flavors that come together make this a delicious meal. Flavors such as anchovies, garlic, crushed hot peppers, and herbs serve to enhance plain breadcrumbs. Traditionally, homemade breadcrumbs are substituted for cheese to cut down on the cost of the dish.
Depending on the season, you can add any leftover vegetable to it, such as mushrooms, tomatoes, and onions, for added texture. However you make it, mollicata is the best kind of weeknight meal you can whip up in less than half an hour.
1. Easy Pasta Mollicata
You will need a large saucepan, a medium sauté pan, and a colander to make this recipe. Use your sauté pan for cooking both anchovies and garlic in olive oil to add fragrance directly to the breadcrumbs. Make sure that the anchovies dissolve before adding the breadcrumbs.
We recommend using bucatini or regular spaghetti noodles for this dish. Be sure to reserve ¼ cup of the pasta water before draining the pasta. Stir in the noodles with some pasta water into the larger pan and add the toasted breadcrumbs at the end. Serve this dish hot and top it with salt, pepper, thinly sliced basil, and grated pecorino cheese.
Get the full recipe and directions here.
2. Pasta Mollicata
If you want a little more flavor in your mollicata, try this recipe. The author recommends using bucatini pasta for this dish. This kind of pasta appears almost identical to spaghetti, but bucatini is hollow on the inside. The sauce for this mollicata recipe uses anchovies, onion, garlic, a diced tomato, and stale breadcrumbs. If you have a bottle of red wine you need to use, feel free to add a splash of it to this sauce as well.
Also, try to find peperoni cruschi, also known as crushed dried Senise peppers, used in Italian dishes in the Southern region. You will cook the sauce until the tomato juices have evaporated a little, then add the cooked pasta, followed by fresh parsley and pecorino cheese.
Get the full recipe and directions from Great Italian Chefs.
3. Pasta Mollicata (Pasta with Breadcrumbs)
This recipe makes enough for four whole portions, and the author says any choice of pasta will do, but they recommend using spaghetti or bucatini. You will need a few tablespoons of the pasta cooking water to help the breadcrumbs stick to the pasta at the end.
The recipe calls for crushed garlic instead of minced garlic, cutting down on precious food prep time. You will sauté anchovies in olive oil until they break down and essentially dissolve. After that, add the breadcrumbs and crushed garlic and cook on low heat for about 3 minutes until they are golden brown. Season them with salt, pepper, fresh parsley, and a pinch of hot chili flakes before mixing in the cooked pasta.
Add a grated hard cheese such as parmesan, pecorino, or manchego on top and serve it immediately.
Get the full recipe and directions from The Heirloom Chronicles.
4. Spaghetti with Garlicky Bread Crumbs and Anchovies
If you have a refined palette, you will enjoy this scrumptious version of mollicata. The author of this recipe says to use a high-quality breadcrumb, preferably from a bakery. The next best thing to buy from the store is panko. They warn not to cook the breadcrumbs too far in advance, or else they will become soggy. Keep in mind that if you have any leftover breadcrumbs after making this dish, you can store them in the freezer and sauté them again to revive the crunchy texture.
You will notice that this recipe calls for more anchovies and garlic than the other mollicata dishes, so it is best suited for those who enjoy these intense flavors. It takes a slightly different approach to coat the pasta. Instead of just pasta water, it uses egg yolks, a little bit of the pasta water, hot sauce (like Tabasco), and Asian fish sauce for an added depth of flavor.
It also says to serve it with fresh lemon wedges for a nice citrus note to tie the whole dish together.
Get the full recipe and directions from Cooking New York Times.
5. Spaghetti with Olives and Bread Crumbs
We like how this recipe calls for both black and green pitted olives. It gives the dish a little more color and flavor. You don’t have to chop the olives precisely; just a rough chop will suffice for this dish. Use extra virgin olive oil if you have it, warm it in a pan, add seasoned dried breadcrumbs, then stir them frequently for 2 minutes. Be careful not to burn them. You need to be attentive until they reach a golden brown color.
Boil a pot of spaghetti for 8 minutes and reserve a cup of the pasta water. You won’t need to use it all, just enough to loosen the pasta and let the breadcrumbs stick to it before you serve the dish. Serve it family-style in a large serving bowl, and be sure to top it with fresh parsley and grated parmesan cheese.
Get the full recipe and directions from Food Network.
6. Spaghetti with Breadcrumbs & Anchovies
If you’re on a tight budget and only have angel hair pasta in your pantry, try this recipe. The author prefers using homemade breadcrumbs over store-bought, and all you have to do is take some stale bread slices and crush them coarsely in a food processor.
It calls for two cups of breadcrumbs in this version of mollicata. You will use both anchovies and capers for the sauce, but don’t go overboard with either ingredient since it may make the dish too salty. Caramelize a whole head of minced garlic with one can of anchovies in extra virgin olive oil on medium-high heat. Use a wooden spoon to break it up until it resembles a coarse paste.
Feel free to add crushed red pepper to the oil allowing the spice to infuse into the paste. Quickly toss in the cooked pasta, then add a bit of lemon zest plus the breadcrumbs at the end. Sprinkle parmesan on top, then serve and enjoy.
Get the full recipe and directions from The Woks of Life.
7. Mollicata with Fennel
This final recipe calls for day-old bread, and the author suggests using a baguette to make the breadcrumbs. Simply use your hands and fingers to create a blend of coarse and fine crumbs.
One ingredient here that stands out from the previous mollicata recipes is fennel seeds. Fennel is slightly sweet and mild with a flavor akin to licorice. You need less than a teaspoon of crushed fennel seeds to make a serving of this mollicata.
Use spaghetti, linguine, capellini, or any other long and stringy noodle and boil it until al dente. The author says if you have farro pasta or some sort of whole-grain pasta, those will work just as well for this recipe. Reserve a little bit of the pasta water in case your dish looks a bit dry. You don’t need to drown it, but make sure the breadcrumbs can stick to the noodles.
Get the full recipe and directions from Leite’s Culinaria.
We hope you enjoy making pasta mollicata in your home. It is easy to replicate and doesn’t require a highly trained chef to make it taste good. Anyone who has made spaghetti before can also make pasta mollicata. Serve it with garlic bread and a tossed salad for a delicious weeknight dinner.
If you like this post, we think you’ll really like our Pasta Mollicata Recipe post.