Claudia and Hans Make Stuff

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Homemade bread crumbs

I grew up in Germany and my mom always made home-made bread crumbs. When I came to the United States, I was amazed to find an endless variety of flavored bread crumbs in the grocery stores. However, being wary of long ingredient lists, I have continued making my own bread crumbs. It is surprisingly simple.
In addition, it comes with great benefits including reduction of food waste, saving money, minimizing landfill (from containers bought in the grocery store), and reducing ingredients in your diet that you cannot pronounce. =)

So what do you need:
Stale, old bread, preferably white bread (make sure it is completely dry and hard)
Grater (alternatively food processor)
Ziploc bag/air-tight container to store bread crumbs in

How to make the bread crumbs:
1. If you have left-over bread that has gone stale before you could finish eating it, place the bread in a dry area to let it dry out completely. The bread should be really hard and dry. If it is a large piece of bread, it may be best to cut it into smaller chunks to allow faster drying and easier grating.
2. Use the bread chunk and grate using a grater. Alternatively, you may want to try a food processor. It should work, I just have never tried it. =)
3. Store the bread crumbs in an airtight container and use the same way you would use store-bought breadcrumbs.

* If you like seasoned bread crumbs. Use your favorite dried seasonings, such as basil, parsley, garlic, or salt and season to taste. (1/2 teaspoon of season for each cup of bread crumbs)
* Unseasoned bread crumbs will store almost indefinitely, provided that the bread was fully dry. Adding seasoning will shorten the life-span.

Bread crumbs

Bread crumbs

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Spaghetti with Walnut Sauce

I was a bit skeptical at first. Pasta and walnuts?! Not a combination I had grown up with in Germany or knew from visiting Italy. And let’s be honest, nothing comes close to traditional, home-style Italian pasta. Well…I loved this dish…even though any Italian out there may say that this is not authentic Italian cooking =P

Ingredients (Makes 2-3 servings):

1 cup walnut pieces or halves
3 tablespoons plain breadcrumbs, see note
3 tablespoons olive or walnut oil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1-2 cloves garlic (optional)
ΒΌ cup butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons milk
salt and freshly ground black pepper
14 ounces whole wheat spaghetti
freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to serve, see note

Preparation (Preparation time approximately 20 minutes):
1. I used the walnuts as they came from the bag. (Alternatively, to remove the skins you can drop the nuts into a small pan of boiling water, and cook for 1-2 minutes. Drain. Slip of the skins. Dry on paper towels.) Coarsely chop and set aside about a quarter of the nuts.

2. Place the remaining nuts, the breadcrumbs, oil, parsley, and garlic (if using) in a food processor or blender. Process to a paste. Remove to a bowl, and stir in the softened butter and the milk. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Cook the pasta in a large pan of rapidly boiling salted water until al dente. Drain, and toss with the sauce. Sprinkle with the reserved chopped nuts, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

* I like to use home-made bread crumbs. See suggestion under:
* We have grown fond of Pecorino Romano cheese instead of Parmesan cheese. It is a bit milder in taste.
* This dish stores well in the refrigerator in an air-tight container and can easily be reheated using the microwave.

Pasta with walnut sauce

Pasta with walnut sauce


Adapted from The Cook’s Encyclopedia of Italian Cooking by Carla Capalbo


Healthful benefits:
* Walnuts (including their skin) are a good source of vitamin E. They also are rich in magnesium and potassium. They even contain a fair amount of calcium.