Mollica Pantesco

Mollica means breadcrumb in Italian, and throughout the poorer regions it’s common to use mollica as a substitute for more expensive cheese as a topping for pasta, vegetables, and other dishes. The crumbs are often combined with nuts. This version adds an untraditional ingredient, capers, to capture another flavor from the island of Pantelleria.

Separately toast a cup or so each of almonds and breadcrumbs (make your own). The almonds can be spread on a sheet pan and toasted in a 350F oven for 10-20 minutes, but watch them to make sure they don’t scorch. I usually toast the breadcrumbs in a heavy skillet, stirriing often and watching carefully. They can go from lightly browned to burnt very quickly.

Combine the nuts, breadcrumbs, and a couple of tablespoons of rinsed, salt-packed Pantellerian capers in the food processor. Pulse until the mix is the consistency of coarse sand. This keeps well in the refrigerator for a week or so.