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Crumbs on crack: Roast Veg with Nutty, Spicy Pangrattato

 Roast Veg with Nutty, Spicy Pangrattato

Let’s face it: there are not that many ways to make a veggie side interesting. One of the reasons I tend to be a one-dish-meal kind of girl (you know, besides being lazy) is the tricky matter of making a great side dish. Not only does it have to be interesting on its own, but it must also complement whatever the main dish is: a tall order for some humble veggies, no?

So I’ll let you in on a little secret I’ve discovered: pangrattato. Ok, so it’s not really a secret, but this crispy breadcrumb topping is far less well-known than it should be, in my opinion. I’d never heard of it at all before Jamie Oliver made a version on TV a couple years ago. Hell, I even told my boss, a professional chef and food business owner, the name of that “delicious crispy breadcrumb” topping he was waxing poetic over!

 Roast Veg with Nutty, Spicy Pangrattato

At its simplest, pangrattato is a toasted breadcrumb topping, but it can be gussied up in innumerable ways. Jamie’s original version contained porcini mushrooms, and he also does a mean chili one. It can be fried in butter or olive oil, can contain spices, nuts or herbs, and can range in flavour from Italian to Indian or Greek. I gave this one a bright Asian taste with chili, cashews, coriander and lemon zest. Basically, these are breadcrumbs on crack.

 Roast Veg with Nutty, Spicy Pangrattato

So, once you’ve pimped up your breadcrumbs, you need a vehicle for them. Pangrattato makes a wicked topping for pasta, risotto, soup or fish, but I find it most useful for the humble roast veg. For this dish I chose a mixture of butternut squash and cauliflower; it might sound like an odd combination, but the mixture in flavour and texture is awesome. Almost any roast-able veg would work though; broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, parsnips, potatoes and squash would all be good.

There’s just one teeny problem with this dish. It’s so good, I sometimes end up eating a whole bowl of these crumb-y veg as a main, instead of a side. Right back to square one, then.

 Roast Veg with Nutty, Spicy Pangrattato

  • Roast Veg with Nutty, Spicy Pangrattato
  • serves 4 as a side (makes approx. 1 cup of pangrattato)
  • For the roast vegetables:
    750g vegetable(s) of your choice, cut into bite-sized pieces
    2 Tbs. olive oil
    a good pinch sea salt

    For the pangrattato:
    45g butter
    3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
    1 tsp. chili flakes
    50g cashews, chopped finely
    100g fresh breadcrumbs (white or brown)
    zest of half a lemon
    3 Tbs. finely chopped coriander
    sea salt, to taste
  • 1. Start by roasting the vegetables. Preheat your oven to 200°C/400°F and spread the chopped (or floreted) veg in a single layer on a baking sheet or shallow dish. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and toss to coat. Roast until tender (time will depend on what you’re using; mine took about 20 minutes).

    2. While the vegetables are cooking, start the pangrattato. Heat the butter in a nonstick pan over medium-high heat and add the garlic. When it begins to colour, add the chili flakes and cashews and cook for another minute or two.

    3. Add the breadcrumbs to the pan and stir well so that they evenly soak up the butter. Cook for another 4-6 minutes, stirring frequently, so that the breadcrumbs become brown and toasted. Remove pan from the heat and discard the garlic cloves. Stir in the lemon zest and coriander and season to taste.

    4. When the vegetables are done roasting, toss with the pangrattato and serve immediately.


  1. Hilary says:

    Now THIS is a side dish. In fact, I would happily eat this as a meal in itself.

  2. Piper says:

    Boy, you come up with some tasty sounding (and looking!!) veggie dishes. And btw, anything that has cashews in it…sign me up :)

  3. Edd says:

    Now this sounds like a way to get me to eat more cauliflower.

  4. tiina says:

    Those breadcrumbs would make any simple vegetable side dish even more delicious. My fridge is quite empty now before I do my weekend grocery shopping, but I have a sweet potato there. This post gave me a good idea how to use it! Once again, a wonderful recipe. Happy weekend!

  5. fresh365 says:

    OOh pangrattato, I like the sound of that! Breadcrumbs on crack- haha just perfect!

  6. Sara says:

    i agree, it is a ‘tall order’!! What a fabulous looking side, i would love to make a version of this, so intrigued.

  7. Dana says:

    Yep, I would eat that whole portion too! I totally agree with you on the side dish challenge. When I was cooking for my clients, that was one of the hardest things to come up with. Love this!

  8. [...] she is wont to do, a delicious-looking recipe: Roasted Veggies and Pangrattato. Inspired by my own Roast Veg with Nutty, Spicy Pangrattato, Tiina’s version changes things up a bit (and looks a lot prettier, thanks to her gorgeous [...]

  9. [...] and roasted veg, traditional baked goods and even pizza. I kicked off the month with a post on Nutty, Spicy Pangrattato, which inspired one of my favourite bloggers to try it, too. I returned the favour by getting some [...]