Try this: How to toast pasta.

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
  • orzo
  • tagliardi (a thin, square pasta)
  • farfalle

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.

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4 thoughts on “Try this: How to toast pasta.

  1. I’ve heard about toasting pasta, but never tried it. Thanks for the nudge. (I do recall from from teenage years –when I was charged with making quick-and-easy dinners that Rice-a-Roni was really a mixture of rice and pasta.)

    • Hi, Sprigs — thanks for your comment. We loved Rice-a-Roni (you’re right: it is a mixture of rice and broken pasta) when I was a kid. You do a homemade variation on Rice-a-Roni of it by oven-toasting equal parts of rice and orzo. Saute a bit of chopped onion in a splash of olive oil, add your toasted rice and orzo and then some chicken broth (you’ll want 1 part rice/pasta to 2 parts liquid, give or take).

  2. You’ve done the foodie world a great service by sharing the wonders of toasted pasta. Lovely. Have you ever tried fideua? It’s basically paella, only with toasted pasta instead of rice.