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When you’re making a simple recipe, the ingredients you use matter. That doesn’t mean you need to select hand-made sun-dried artisanal pasta to boil in reverse-osmosis filtered water imported from the Austrian Alps the next time it’s spaghetti night, but in general, if it’s a question of a simple upgrade, it’s time to go for it. You can notice these upgrades so much more in a recipe with a limited ingredient list, and Jamie Oliver, whose book 5 Ingredients Mediterranean is available for pre-order, is a total pro at finding ways to make small boosts to simple recipes. Oliver just shared his favorite way to add a little extra flavor to your favorite weeknight pasta bakes, and all you’ll need is a loaf of store-bought garlic bread.
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Oliver’s hack is smart, because it’s a way to add more savory, garlicky flavor to your meal without having to chop extra garlic or raid your spice cabinet. He gets a loaf of garlic bread from the store, then he pulverizes it (you can use a food processor or blender) into breadcrumbs. They’re already seasoned, buttery and garlicky, and when the crumbs are scattered on top of the baked pasta dish, they bake up to a toasty golden brown. You can use the same trick to make flavorful breadcrumbs to put on everything from macaroni and cheese to chicken hot dish.
As for the rest of Oliver’s pasta bake recipe, it couldn’t be easier. He makes a simple sauce with garlic, leeks, basil, oregano, and canned tomatoes. After it’s simmered together, he blends it up, though he says if you like a heartier sauce with chunks you can leave it be.
In the meantime, he cooks the pasta for less time than called for on the package, because it will continue to cook in the oven. The pasta and sauce are mixed together with frozen spinach and placed in a casserole dish, then get topped with a shower of Parmesan and garlic breadcrumbs. It’s a simple baked pasta dinner, but the attention to detail, and those easy semi-homemade garlic breadcrumbs, are what will make you return to this recipe again and again.
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