Have you ever enjoyed toasted pasta? Toasting takes this staple ingredient into a different stratosphere. The Italian specialty fregola sarda—little pearl pasta toasted to a rich golden brown—was my first experience with this idea; I love it in a simple recipe for pasta with zucchini and pine nuts.
Last weekend, we made a wonderful pasta recipe with mushrooms and hazelnuts from Food & Wine magazine—it called for making your own pasta using oven-toasted flour. I didn’t have time to fuss over making pasta (but here’s an easy homemade pasta recipe if you’d like to try it). Instead, I toasted a big handful of Cipriani tagliardi pasta (a brand I love and highly recommend).
Toasted pasta brings a deep, nutty flavor to a dish. I wouldn’t go to the trouble with spaghetti and meatballs, for example, but it’s well-suited to recipes that are earthy or vegetal in flavor, like this recipe for wild mushroom bolognese from SoupAddict or this recipe for cheesy pasta with arugula and mushrooms.
Pasta shapes that would benefit from toasting:
- pearl pasta or large Israeli couscous
- tagliardi (a thin, square pasta)
how to toast pasta
Preheat oven to 350 degrees; line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Portion out the amount of dry pasta you need and spread it evenly on the baking sheet. Bake for 5 or 6 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure even browning, until the pasta is lightly golden brown and begins to smell toasty. Cook in well-salted boiling water according to package directions.