Spaghetti with Bottarga and Almond Bread Crumbs
- ACTIVE: 25 MIN
- TOTAL TIME: 1 HR 20 MIN
- SERVINGS: 8
When Piero traveled to the Italian island of Pantelleria, he discovered pasta and capers topped with crushed toasted almonds and bread crumbs. "I thought the almond bread crumbs would be really cool to add to a bottarga dish," he says. Bottarga is cured roe from either mullet (which is slightly waxy and mildly fishy) or tuna (which has a pronounced anchovy flavor); it's sold at specialty food stores. Though it might seem like a white wine dish, this spaghetti is rich enough to pair very well with a light Pinot Noir, like Piero's 2009 Bodega Chacra Barda. If that proves hard to find, look for something similar from Oregon, like the 2008 Adelsheim Willamette Valley.
- 1/2 cup large salt-packed capers
- 1 cup whole blanched almonds
- 1 1/2 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
- 1 1/2 ounces bottarga, preferably mullet, finely grated (3/4 cup)
- 1 pound spaghetti
- Soak the capers in a bowl of cold water for 1 hour. Drain and finely chop the capers.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°. Toast the almonds on a baking sheet for 10 minutes, until golden brown. Let the almonds cool, then coarsely chop them; transfer to a food processor and finely grind.
- Spread the bread crumbs on the baking sheet and toast in the oven until crisp. Let cool, then toss with the almonds and parsley.
- In a large pot, melt the butter in 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the capers, crushed red pepper and half of the bottarga and cook over moderate heat until sizzling, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
- In another large pot of boiling salted water, cook the spaghetti, stirring, until al dente. Drain the spaghetti, reserving 3/4 cup of the pasta cooking water. Add the pasta to the bottarga sauce. Stir in the reserved cooking water, 2 tablespoons at a time, until the pasta is coated with a rich sauce.
- Scatter one-fourth of the bread crumb mixture in a large, shallow bowl. Top with one-third of the pasta. Repeat the layering twice more, ending with the bread crumb mixture. Sprinkle the remaining bottarga over the pasta and drizzle with the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil. Serve right away.
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Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.