Want to win dinner tonight? Blanket your pasta in hearty, spicy, fiery-red pepperoni pangrattato. It's my totally unorthodox version of the classic Italian garnish. The whole dish comes together easily: Make the pangrattato while the water heats. Prepare the sauce while the spaghetti cooks. Top each bowl with the spicy crumbs. In under 20 minutes, dig in at the table. —EmilyC
For the pasta:
garlic cloves, thinly sliced
lemon juice, divided
finely grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
For the pepperoni pangrattato:
2 1/2 ounces
pepperoni (either pre-sliced or the type sold in sticks), medium chop
Finely grated zest from 1 lemon
finely chopped parsley (well-dried to keep the crumbs crispy)
Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons salt and spaghetti; cook until al dente according to package directions. (Note that you'll reserve the pasta water; see step 4.)
While the water is heating, make the pangrattato: Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the pepperoni. Cook, stirring, until it starts to render its fat, about 1 to 2 minutes, then add the panko. Stir to evenly coat the panko in the rendered fat. Continue cooking until the crumbs are golden brown and the pepperoni is crispy, about 4 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the lemon zest and parsley.
While the spaghetti cooks, prepare the sauce: heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic, cooking until pale golden, about 2 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high; add 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 1/2 cup water to the pan. Cook 2 to 3 minutes longer, or until the volume has reduced by half.
Using tongs or a pasta ladle, transfer the spaghetti directly into the skillet. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice (or more or less, to taste) and more pasta water, as needed, to loosen the sauce, tossing well to evenly coat the noodles. Add the Parmesan and toss again.
Serve in bowls and top with the pepperoni pangrattato and more Parmesan, if desired.