A toasted spiced breadcrumb is an unlikely alternative when garnishing food but Pangrattato or “poor man’s parmesan cheese” enhances plates with style and chic. It’s commonly used with pasta (hence the reference) or with vegetables or used as a crumb topping on seafood.
Folklore suggests Pangratto originated during Italy’s most oppressed years when the poor couldn’t afford parmesan cheese and instead of skimping on flavour, ingenious grandmothers would fry breadcrumbs, garlic, lemon zest and salt as a substitute, so families could still enjoy their pasta.
My version is without oil, as I prefer to dry fry my breadcrumbs and keep the recipe healthy and fat-free. I also used oregano instead of garlic to spice up the flavour. This recipe also freezes extremely well and can be made in bulk for use later.
Having bought a bucketful of green beans from the farmer’s growers market, I decided to liven up this batch of green beans by adding pangrattato to this vegetable dish.
Green Beans with Pangrattato or Poor Man's Parmesan Cheese.