My brother and his girlfriend have been visiting this week from Saint Martin and it has been so nice to catch up with them. The kids especially love it when they are here. Every moment ends up being an opportunity to try to steal their attention and impress Uncle Mark and Aunt Jenn. This state of affairs is, of course, fine with me and Paul. Increasing the ratio of adults to little kids is always a good thing, especially when those adults are Mark and Jenn.
Mark and Jenn are both great cooks and have taught me much of what I know about cooking and feeding people. Their first night here I wasn’t sure how hungry everyone was going to be or what they would be up for. I ended up sort of paralyzed with indecision and without a dinner plan. Fortunately, just before it was time to head to the airport, I decided to make some garlic bread crumbs out of the soda bread hanging out on the counter. I figured, if we didn’t go out for dinner, I could use them to whip up a quick pasta dish to serve with a salad and grocery store rotisserie chicken.
I toasted the bread, whizzed it in my food processor with a few cloves of fresh garlic and toasted the whole lot in butter and olive oil on the stovetop. You know how people say that if you want to sell your house you should bake chocolate cookies? Well, I think you should make these bread crumbs. They smell toasty, nutty, garlicy - like something delicious is in your future. When the bread crumbs were reasonably cool, I tossed them with grated Parmesan, minced parsley and lemon zest. Then I seasoned them with a tiny bit of sea salt, nutmeg and black pepper and headed to the airport.
We ended up using them to make this simple pasta dish with some fresh pasta. But honestly, these would be good on anything. I’m thinking of making some more to use instead of panko for this Ina Garten recipe. Or as a topping for baked fish. I usually add nuts to this sort of thing but I found that the nuttiness of the soda bread provided what I was looking for and the texture was light and perfect.
Oh, and by the way. Turns out a simple pasta dish, rotisserie chicken and a big salad can be company worthy. It made the perfect family dinner that everyone could enjoy.
Soda Bread Crumbs
- 5-7 pieces of soda bread, about 3 cups crumbs
- 3-4 cloves of garlic
- Pinch of salt
- 1-2 tablespoons butter
- 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
- ¼ cup minced parsley
- Zest of one lemon
- ¼-⅓ cup grated Parmesan
- Sea salt, nutmeg and back pepper to taste
Toast soda bread and add to food processor along with peeled garlic cloves and a pinch of salt. Pulse until the bread turns into coarse crumbles.
Add oil and butter to large frying pan and heat over medium high heat until butter is melted.
Add garlic-bread mixture and toast, stirring constantly until bread crumbs are fragrant and brown. I turn the heat down at the end since the crumbs can go from toasted to burnt easily.
When the crumbs have cooled add the parsley, lemon zest and Parmesan and stir thoroughly.
Season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg.