Here’s a little bit of homespun comfort food that Tammie taught me shortly after we met many years ago now. Her mother used to make it for her and her sisters—spaghetti was one of her little sister Missie’s favorites and “spaghetti toast” turned out to be a natural “line extension.” Since we cook so much pasta, leftovers are common at our house, and spaghetti toast is a good way to turn them into something that’s tasty, easy, and fun to make. As Tammie said the other night, it’s a bit like eating spaghetti tacos! You get the crunchy texture of the toast, and then the butter’s creaminess and the softness of the spaghetti.
When Tammie first told me about this, I’ll admit it sounded a bit strange. But when I gave it more thought over the years, it started to make sense. If pasta is terrific topped with breadcrumbs—which it is—then, I realized one day that spaghetti toast is simply inverting the ratios. Instead of the breadcrumbs being the “garnish” that finishes things so well, the bread becomes the base. The pasta is the “filling” instead of the feature. We make it most often with long pasta (spaghetti, linguini, bucatini, etc.) and tomato sauce, but you can prepare it with whatever you’d like.
photo courtesy of Zingerman’s Bakehouse
To make spaghetti toast, start by toasting some Bakehouse bread. The Miche would work well if you like bolder flavors, and Paesano or Rustic Italian are ideal if you prefer something subtler. While the bread is still hot, spread it with some good butter. Olive oil works too, but Tammie prefers it with butter. Her point is well taken—there is something about its creamy richness that adds to the dish. Pile on some hot spaghetti from your leftovers (though you could make spaghetti just for this purpose too). Grate on some Parmigiano Reggiano and some black pepper. I like a little drizzle of olive oil on top. A sprinkle of the Halen Môn sea salt would be great as well. You can either pick it up and eat it like a taco as Tammie says, or you can be more proper and do the deed with a fork and knife.
PS. I wouldn’t have known, but it turns out that Spaghetti on toast is a longtime favorite in New Zealand. Down there it sounds like they rely on canned spaghetti served on a piece of white toast. They even eat it for breakfast. I’m sure some high-end restaurant is doing an artisan version by now. One day we’ll be able to visit again to find out!