Pasta with Asparagus & Fried Crumbs

12:00 pm on 12 October 2018
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Photo: Supplied

Serves 4

This dish makes a lot of a few ingredients – breadcrumbs, seasonings and asparagus – and is easy to throw together for a light meal.

This is good with linguine (flat slim noodles) but I like the way small pieces of asparagus get trapped inside tubes of pasta so you get a double whammy in a mouthful!

The best size asparagus is medium-sized, not skinny jobs and not big fat ones either. Oh so fussy!


  • 125ml (½ cup) extra virgin olive oil
  • 30g (½ cup) fresh sourdough breadcrumbs
  • flaky sea salt
  • coarse sea salt for cooking asparagus and pasta
  • 350g asparagus, trimmed
  • 400g penne (or use linguine or fettuccine)
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 2 tiny dried ‘bird’s eye‘ chillies, crushed
  • Finely grated zest 1 lemon
  • 3 Tbsp capers, drained, mopped in paper towels and chopped
  • ½ cup loosely packed small mint leaves, torn into small pieces
  • ¼ cup loosely packed young flat-leaf parsley sprigs, torn into small pieces
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese (optional)


Heat 2 tablespoons of the measured oil in a small frying pan over medium heat and once it is hot add the breadcrumbs.

Cook until they are golden and crisp, turning often. Transfer to a side plate lined with paper towels and sprinkle with sea salt.

Cook asparagus in gently boiling lightly salted water for about 7 minutes, or until tender (the asparagus must not be too crunchy in this dish).

Drain, refresh with cold water, drain, then pat dry with paper towels. Cut into short lengths.

Cook the pasta in plenty of gently boiling well-salted water until al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, put the garlic and chillies in a large pan with the rest of the oil and warm gently over a low heat, so the garlic and chillies flavour the oil; don’t let the garlic fry.

Drain pasta and transfer it to the pan of heated oil with any clinging water (don’t shake it dry).

Add lemon zest and capers, toss again, then add asparagus, mint and parsley.

Toss then transfer to a heated bowl. Sprinkle with the crunchy crumbs and serve immediately.

From Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan

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