This is my first kitchen memory. I am about four years old, standing on a lime green stool tucked between the kitchen countertop and my Grandfather’s shoulders,which are hunched over to my pip-squeak height. My Pop-op has covered the counter with tea cloths and placed the heels of last Sunday’s bread on top of them. With his hands he crushes the quarter loaves into dust and then opens his palms wide as though he just performed a magic trick. This makes me smile, giggle and eventually roar in voluminous laughter.
My paws are not quite as hefty as my Grandfather’s were, so I rely on a food processor for home made breadcrumbs. My only preference is that the crumbs be unflavored, I can season them up later depending on what I am making. For the recipe below, I turned plain old’ crumbs into a crunchy, seasoned oreganata to top some locally caught fluke a friend of ours dropped off after a particularly fruitful catch. The oreganata can also be used to top shrimp, clams, roasted tomatoes, or broccoli florets just to name a few, use your imagination, and as always enjoy.
For the Breadcrumbs
Any bread with do, though we typically use leftover loaves of seedless Italian or semolina.
Pre heat oven to 200 degrees- Even if the loaves are very dry and stale I usually like to let them sit in the oven for thirty minutes or so to really dry them out.
Using a food processor crumble as much of the bread by hand as you can to break up the pieces a bit, pulse on low until you have the texture of coarse sand.
If you don’t have a food processor you can also use a hand grater to crumb the loaves- Works just as well and really builds up those forearms.
For the Oreganata
½ cup plain dry bread crumbs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Zest of half lemon *Optional but especially good if using on seafood*
½ cup of extra virgin olive oil
Sea Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
In a medium sized bowl combine the breadcrumbs with the herbs, lemon zest and olive oil, using your fingers of a fork to ensure that the breadcrumbs are evenly moistened.
Over medium heat in a non stick frying pan toast the breadcrumbs for three to five minutes, stirring constantly and be careful not to burn.
Your oreganata is now ready to top a fresh piece of fluke or anything else your heart and stomach desires.