Herb Pasta with Toasted Breadcrumbs

Summer Herb Pasta with Toasted Breadcrumbs
Serves 4 – 6

One of my favorite “Ah-ha!” moments to see students have is when they realize “salad” doesn’t have to mean, “greens” and “dressing.” Pasta can be an excellent vehicle for veggies, by bumping up the greens. Take copious amount of herbs from your garden (or let’s be real, the grocery store/farmer’s market) and toss with thin asparagus, just barely steaming them in hot pasta water. Breadcrumbs add an unexpected and delightful crunch. Toss with cheese and serve family style with wine.

1 lb. bucatini (or spaghetti pasta)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 onion, diced
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 gloves garlic, minced
1 cup Castelvetrano olives, pitted and roughly chopped
1 bunch thin asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1” pieces
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 cup reserved pasta water
2 cups Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup roughly chopped dill
1/2 cup roughly chopped mint
1/2 cup roughly chopped parsley

Bring a large pasta pot to a boil and salt generously. Cook pasta until al dente and reserve 1 cup of pasta water.

In a small skillet heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and toast breadcrumbs until golden brown, set aside to cool.

In a large skillet heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat and sauté onion until translucent, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and add garlic, cooking until just fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add olives, asparagus, lemon zest and juice and cook until heated through. Remove pasta from heat and place hot pasta into the pan, along with pasta water and cheese, toss to coat evenly using tongs. Fold in herbs and drizzle with remaining two tablespoons olive oil. 

Serve hot or room temperature.