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Milk Street Recipe
Milk Street Bowtie Pasta with Fried Capers and Toasted Breadcrumbs

Pasta with Fried Capers and Toasted Breadcrumbs

30 minutes

Free

Inspired by a recipe from “On Top of Spaghetti” by George Germon and Johanne Killeen, this vegetarian pasta dish features brined capers two ways: tossed with the pasta to offer sharp bursts of flavor and fried until crisp and sprinkled on top for textural contrast. Toasted panko breadcrumbs offer a touch of nutty flavor and additional crispness, while a generous amount of fresh herbs lend the dish bright flavor and color; we liked the combination of grassy parsley and slightly piney, subtly citrusy marjoram. If marjoram is not available, fresh oregano is a fine substitute, though its flavor is slightly more assertive and astringent.

Kosher salt and ground black pepper
12 ounces fettuccini or other long pasta
8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more to serve
½ cup drained capers, patted dry, divided, plus 1 to 2 tablespoons caper brine
2 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
½ cup panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1½ cups lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
¼ cup lightly packed fresh marjoram (see note), finely chopped
Ingredients
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

  • 12

    ounces fettuccini or other long pasta

  • 8

    tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more to serve

  • ½

    cup drained capers, patted dry, divided, plus 1 to 2 tablespoons caper brine

  • 2

    medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled

  • ½

    cup panko breadcrumbs

  • 2

    tablespoons lemon juice

  • cups lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

  • ¼

    cup lightly packed fresh marjoram (see note), finely chopped

Directions
  1. 01
    In a large pot, bring 2 quarts water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta, then cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Reserve ½ cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta.
    See Demo
    Pasta with Fried Capers and Toasted Breadcrumbs Step 1
  2. 02
    Meanwhile, in a 12-inch skillet over medium, heat 6 tablespoons of oil until shimmering. Add ¼ cup of the capers and the garlic and cook, stirring often, until the garlic is golden brown and the capers are crisp, about 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the capers to a paper towel–lined plate; discard the garlic. Add the panko to the oil remaining in the pan and cook over medium, stirring often, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, then transfer ½ of the panko to the plate with the fried capers; leave the remainder in the pan.
    See Demo
    Pasta with Fried Capers and Toasted Breadcrumbs Step 2
  3. 03
    Add the drained pasta to the panko in the skillet, along with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, ¼ cup of the reserved cooking water, the remaining ¼ cup un-fried capers, 1 tablespoon caper brine, the lemon juice and ½ teaspoon pepper. Toss to combine; if the pasta looks dry, add cooking water 1 tablespoon at a time. Taste and adjust seasoning with additional caper brine and pepper. Stir in the parsley and marjoram, then transfer to a serving dish. Sprinkle with fried capers and breadcrumbs. Serve with additional oil.
    See Demo
    Pasta with Fried Capers and Toasted Breadcrumbs Step 3
Tip: Don't forget to pat the capers dry after draining. Removing excess water will help prevent splattering during frying. Don't use regular breadcrumbs in place of the panko; their texture is too fine and powdery to add crispness. When seasoning the dish at the end, don't add salt without first tasting the pasta, as the cooking water, capers and caper brine all add salinity.
In the store
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Pasta with Fried Capers and Toasted Breadcrumbs

Get Ready to Cook

4

Servings

30 minutes

Tip

Don't forget to pat the capers dry after draining. Removing excess water will help prevent splattering during frying. Don't use regular breadcrumbs in place of the panko; their texture is too fine and powdery to add crispness. When seasoning the dish at the end, don't add salt without first tasting the pasta, as the cooking water, capers and caper brine all add salinity.

Ingredients
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

  • 12

    ounces fettuccini or other long pasta

  • 8

    tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more to serve

  • ½

    cup drained capers, patted dry, divided, plus 1 to 2 tablespoons caper brine

  • 2

    medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled

  • ½

    cup panko breadcrumbs

  • 2

    tablespoons lemon juice

  • cups lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

  • ¼

    cup lightly packed fresh marjoram (see note), finely chopped

Step 1 of 3

Cook Pasta

12
ounces fettuccini or other long pasta
Kosher salt

In a large pot, bring 2 quarts water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta, then cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Reserve ½ cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta.

Step 2 of 3

Brown Capers and Breadcrumbs

6
tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼
cup drained capers, patted dry
2
medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
½
cup panko breadcrumbs

Meanwhile, in a 12-inch skillet over medium, heat 6 tablespoons of oil until shimmering. Add ¼ cup of the capers and the garlic and cook, stirring often, until the garlic is golden brown and the capers are crisp, about 5 minutes.


With a slotted spoon, transfer the capers to a paper towel–lined plate; discard the garlic. Add the panko to the oil remaining in the pan and cook over medium, stirring often, until golden brown, about 5 minutes.


Remove from the heat, then transfer ½ of the panko to the plate with the fried capers; leave the remainder in the pan.

Step 3 of 3

Add Pasta and Serve

2
tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
¼
cup drained capers, patted dry
1-2
tablespoons caper brine
2
tablespoons lemon juice
Ground black pepper
cups lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
¼
cup lightly packed fresh marjoram, finely chopped

Add the drained pasta to the panko in the skillet, along with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, ¼ cup of the reserved cooking water, the remaining ¼ cup un-fried capers, 1 tablespoon caper brine, the lemon juice and ½ teaspoon pepper.


Toss to combine; if the pasta looks dry, add cooking water 1 tablespoon at a time. Taste and adjust seasoning with additional caper brine and pepper.


Stir in the parsley and marjoram, then transfer to a serving dish. Sprinkle with fried capers and breadcrumbs. Serve with additional oil.

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