White Pasta with Garlic Parmigiano Breadcrumbs

March  4, 2012
12 Ratings
Photo by Mark Weinberg
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 25 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

For a quick dinner, I took an idea from my childhood and put my own spin on it: pasta of your choice (I use linguine) with ricotta and milk, plus a topping of bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, butter, and Parmigiano.

A couple of notes: Take the ricotta out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before you prepare the dish, as it will need to be room temperature. You don’t have to be exact with the measurements: Tailor it to suite your taste. Double the ingredients to feed a larger crowd.

Test Kitchen Notes

This recipe is a brilliant reminder of the pleasure that can come from combining just a few simple ingredients. I was surprised by the quantity of breadcrumb topping -- 1 1/2 cups is a lot of breadcrumbs -- but it really does set this dish apart by providing a welcome contrast to the richness of the ricotta. —Etta

What You'll Need
  • Garlic Parmigiano Breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 splash of olive oil
  • 2 small cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano
  • 1 handful flat-leaf parsley chopped
  • 1 pinch lemon zest
  • The pasta and sauce
  • 3/4 pound linguine (or whatever pasta you like)
  • 1/2 cup milk, plus more as needed (you can also add some of the hot pasta water if you find it's a bit dry)
  • 2 cups ricotta, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano or Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1 pinch salt and pepper, plus more to taste
  1. Breadcrumb topping; In a skillet, melt butter with a splash of olive oil, then add the garlic and cook until it softens and is just starting to brown. Add the bread crumbs and continue to cook until the crumbs are lightly browned. Take off the heat and pour the mixture into a mixing bowl. Add the1/4 c Parmigiano, parsley, and lemon zest, stir to combine, and set aside. To make fresh breadcrumbs just pulse some bread in the food processor. I always use stale bread for this, pulsing it and storing in the freezer in a zip lock bag.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. When there is a rolling boil, add a lot of salt—taste the water; it should taste salty. Put the pasta in and stir to separate. Cook al dente. Reserve a little of the pasta water in case you need it if you feel the finished dish is too dry.
  3. While the pasta is cooking, heat your milk until it's hot to the touch (I microwaved it for 45 seconds). Put the ricotta and additional 1/4 c Parmigiano in your serving bowl and add the hot milk, stir to combine, season to taste. When the pasta is al dente, drain and add the hot pasta to the bowl with the ricotta-milk mixture. Toss to combine and top with the bread crumbs that you set aside.. Add a little more grated Parmigiano if you like and serve.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Glenn
  • Michelle Yokoyama
    Michelle Yokoyama
  • NotTooSweet
  • sexyLAMBCHOPx
  • Kaitlin Holland
    Kaitlin Holland
I have loved to cook for as long as I can remember, am self taught learning as I go. I come from a large Italian family and food was at the center of almost every gathering. My grandfather made his own wine and I remember the barrels of wine in the cellar of my grandfathers home, I watched my mother and aunts making homemade pasta and remember how wonderful it was to sit down to a truly amazing dinner. Cooking for me is a way to express myself its my creative outlet. I enjoy making all types of food but especially enjoy baking, I live in Brooklyn, NY, and I share my home with my two dogs Izzy and Nando. I like to collect cookbooks and scour magazines and newspapers for recipes. I hope one day to organize them.

43 Reviews

Andrew E. February 4, 2023
Way too much bread crumbs. Maybe .5 cup would work. And what are "fresh bread crumbs?" Does that mean you can't used bread crumbs out of a box? Recipe directions are not clear enough. "Put the Ricotta and Parmigiano into your serving bowl..." should read "Add the Ricotta to your bread crumb/Parmigiano mixture and stir." This was just a big, gloppy mess that I hope I can salvage tomorrow for my kid.
sdebrango February 4, 2023
Hi Andrew; I think that if you want to use less breadcrumbs that’s fine and fresh breadcrumbs are not dried, they are toasted in a pan and flavored. I just pulse bread in my foodprocessor. I top with the breadcrumbs and do not mix with the ricotta and milk. In other words it’s a topping, like putting grated cheese on top. I’m very sorry you did not like this.
Andrew E. February 4, 2023
The first step in the recipe says: "Take off the heat and pour the mixture into a bowl. Add the Parmigiano, parsley, and lemon zest, stir to combine, and set aside." This would suggest combining the lightly browned bread crumb mixture with the Parmigiano, etc.

The third step says: "Put the ricotta and Parmigiano in your serving bowl and add the hot milk, mix it up, and season to taste." Since I already added the Parmigiano to the lemon zest and parsley and bread crumb mix, I thought the putting the Ricotta into the Parmigiano, bread crumbs, lemon, etc. mixture was what was needed. Recipe says twice that Parmigiano should be added. First step in directions is unclear. Should be clarified.
sdebrango February 4, 2023
Hi Andrew; I’m sorry it’s not clear, you add parmigiano to the bread crumbs as well as the ricotta mixture. I will see if I can make it more clear. What I was saying is after the breadcrumbs are toasted toss with the parm and parsley etc and set aside. Then in the serving bowl mix the milk and ricotta add the hot pasta, toss and then top with the breadcrumbs. I’m so sorry this was not made clear enough in the instructions. It really is delicious and the toasted breadcrumbs add a nice texture, crunch as well as flavor. Again my apologies.
sdebrango February 4, 2023
In the serving bowl the other 1/4 c parm with the hot milk and ricotta toss pasta with it, Then top with the bread crumbs before serving. ☺️
sdebrango February 4, 2023
I actually had a friend read the recipe and she told me she could see how it was not completely clear. I made some changes to the instructions. Again I am so sorry that you had problems with this and that your meal was disappointing.
Dani January 15, 2021
This was really nice and quick. Perfect for a busy weeknight. I did add pasta water to make more of a sauce. I also added lemon zest to the ricotta mixture since I wanted just a light sprinkle of the toasted garlic crumbs. It was perfect, a light garlicky crunch. I would love to try some sautéed mushrooms in this.
sdebrango January 15, 2021
Thank you so much Dani! I think mushrooms would taste wonderful, I thought maybe Broccoli would be good too.
lrnstratton December 15, 2020
Pretty good. I did 1 cup breadcrumbs and it was too much. I would maybe eliminate entirely. I'd also add more milk and maybe extra garlic.
sdebrango December 18, 2020
Thank you, this recipe is based on what my Mom made for meatless Fridays. Just as you suggested she did not use breadcrumbs and added more milk than I do. Either way it’s good. Happy holidays!!
Vida October 20, 2020
Very easy to put together and it came out great. The key is reserving some of the pasta cooking water and adding it to the sauce to create a loose sauce. I used the zest of one full lemon and increased the garlic to 6 cloves. If you anticipate left overs, keep the crumbs separate from the parsley mixture, that way you can keep the crumbs on the counter and they will stay crispy, instead of getting soft in the fridge. Good recipe, I'm sure we'll make it again.
sdebrango October 20, 2020
Thank you so much Vida! 💯 agree about the breadcrumbs on leftovers. I do the same. Also great tip about the pasta water, it loosens the sauce.
Gabby April 11, 2020
Great recipe using everyday ingredients. We've also made it with Cheddar cheese and added spinach and cherry tomatoes and its fabulous.
sdebrango April 11, 2020
Thank you so much!! Yes I also have mixed in different cheese it’s adaptable which is what I love about it. Hope you are well, stay safe and thank you!!
stella K. January 16, 2019
I made this the other night and it was DELICIOUS. I used heavy cream because I didn't have milk, and it was still great. After I mixed the noodles with the cheese mixture, I added some pasta water and it helped create a really nice sauce. I thought I added too much water though, so I cooked it down a bit but the next time I'd just leave it a little saucy, since the breadcrumbs absorbed some of the moisture. Don't skip the lemon zest, it helps brighten and balance the richness of the dish. Next time I think I'll add more garlic and more lemon zest -- already thinking about the next time I get to eat this!
Glenn June 5, 2018
This recipe looks delicious! So what exactly are 'fresh' bread crumbs? Do I use fresh bread? Day old bread? Bread that I've dried in oven?
Glenn June 5, 2018
Thanks. I can't wait to try. I might try with shiritaki noodles for my health conscious daughter.
Michelle Y. February 13, 2018
I made this last night and it was terrific. Served it with a grocery store rotisserie chicken and a salad. Pretty much no effort for a dinner that was good enough for company. Thanks for the recipe! It will go into the weeknight rotation!
cooking44 March 3, 2015
I made this last night and it was a hit. I added just a pinch of fresh nutmeg. Will make this again.
NotTooSweet February 26, 2015
I made this for my family while we were vacationing in the Catskills (they did the skiing, I did the cooking!). I doubled the recipe and the leftovers were delicious for lunch the following day. Served pan roasted broccoli with it and that was a perfect side dish. After adding the pasta to the cheese/milk mixture I did end up adding a little over 1/4 cup of pasta water. The pasta didn't seem hot enough so I put it all in a large casserole, sprinkled the bread crumbs over the top and placed it in a 350 oven for about 20 minutes. Everyone loved the pasta and I will definitely make it again. Thanks sdebrango for a great dish!
Doc February 23, 2015
I thought this sounded like a great meal, so I gave it a try.
I followed the directions to the letter and it came out super dry.
Other than the 1/2 cup of milk, (and I guess the butter once it's melted) there's no liquid component to the recipe. Not sure if other folks adjusted the recipe?
Doc February 24, 2015
I was re-thinking what could have gone wrong - as I followed the recipe exactly (exactly as I read it). I think the issue is that the ricotta and hot milk must be mixed in a separate bowl from the bread crumbs - this would allow the hot milk to help melt the ricotta - this would add some moisture to the dish.
THEN add the (hot) pasta to the milk\ricotta\parmesan bowl and toss this...and only at the very end add the breadcrumbs.
That has to be the issue.
I added the breadcrumbs to the ricotta\milk\parmesan and it had the consistency of wet sand, then I added the pasta and tossed the whole mix.
jhudora February 23, 2015
Honestly, this was one of the worst pasta dishes that I've ever tried! I had all yhe ingredients and did exactly step by step, I even read it once more after Ia was done to make sure I didn't miss anything but everythis was done by the book. It just was sooo dry, maybe if the bread crumbs are less it wiil be better.
Sabina February 23, 2015
Reserve some of the pasta water and add back in when you toss all the ingredients together, you will have a much nicer dish.
jhudora February 23, 2015
No need to be sorry :) Probably it's a matter of personal taste. Thanks for the advices
kasia S. October 12, 2017
You're comment wasn't exactly kind calling it one of the worst pastas you've ever made, hence you ( luckily) got a sorry.
kasia S. October 12, 2017
sexyLAMBCHOPx February 4, 2015
Do you think cottage cheese would be okay as a substitute for ricotta?
Sabina January 22, 2015
In our home this was considered "depression food" and a Lenten staple.
Kaitlin H. January 15, 2015
I just made this, and it was absolutely delicious!!! So easy, & the best part was that I had about 90% of the ingredients on hand.. The only things I didn't have were milk (substituted with cream) and parsley (served the pasta over a bed of fresh spinach). So delicious & comforting - this dish tasted like a hug. Thank you!
Kukla January 8, 2015
Congratulations Suzanne on a well deserved CP!
I love any dish which has a good amount of Ricotta and this is it!
inpatskitchen January 8, 2015
Congrats on the CP! So happy for you!
TheWimpyVegetarian January 8, 2015
This is exactly the kind of recipe I love most - especially this time of year!
AntoniaJames January 8, 2015
I'm so looking forward to trying this. Congrats on the Community Pick! ;o)
Aliwaks December 11, 2014
This has all the things I love....