Recipe: Poor Man's Parmesan

Pin it button big
A Sicilian friend who once visited us for the weekend and offered to make lunch, taught me a great substitute for Parmesan. We'd run out, and his pasta dish commanded a topping. So he fried up some bread crumbs and declared them "Poor Man’s Parmesan" with a very Southern Italian flick of the wrist and lift of the eyebrows.

This weekend, despite a nice hunk of Parmesan lurking in the fridge, we made a batch of the breadcrumbs and topped a zucchini and ham pasta dish with them. It just seemed like the right accompaniment. The next day, a salad of garden greens and avocado got the treatment. And I was reminded of just how delicious this little treat is, and easy to make, too.

Poor Man’s Parmesan (Toasted Bread Crumbs)

makes 1/2 cup

2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup bread crumbs*
Several tablespoons finely chopped parsley (or try other herbs like thyme, oregano, etc.)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Heat the oil over medium flame in a small sauté pan. Add the bread crumbs, salt and pepper, and stir, cooking until crumbs have absorbed the oil. Add the parsley and cook another few minutes, until crumbs turn a golden brown. Remove from pan and serve as a topping to pasta dishes, salads, meats, etc.

(*to make your own bread crumbs, rip up a few slices of bread, stale bread if you have it, and process in a food processor until broken into small pieces.)

You might also like

Recommended by Apartment Therapy


Easy, Italian, Recipe, Vegan, Vegetarian

Sara Kate is the founding editor of The Kitchn. She co-founded the site in 2005 and has since written three cookbooks. She is most recently the co-author of The Kitchn Cookbook, to be published in October 2014 by Clarkson Potter.