Fettuccine with chives and toasted breadcrumbs

2 servings; easily increased

This easy pasta dish uses a large amount of chives. The chives get only a short cooking time, which allows their flavor to bloom and mellow. Serve alongside grilled fish or poultry, or as a simple first course.

2 teaspoons butter
1/3 cup fresh breadcrumbs* (about 3⁄4 ounce)
4 ounces uncooked (dry) fettuccine
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 large clove garlic, cut into 4 pieces
1/2 cup snipped chives (1⁄4-inch lengths; about 3⁄4 ounce)
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving

Begin heating a large pot of water to boiling over high heat. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in breadcrumbs; cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown and just crisp, about 3 minutes. Scrape into a small bowl and set aside. Combine broth and garlic in same skillet. Heat to boiling over high heat, then cook until broth has reduced to about 1⁄2 cup, 5 to 10 minutes (see tip below). Remove from heat; mash garlic with a fork.

Add fettuccine to boiling water and cook until barely tender; near the end of cooking time, return the skillet with the reduced broth to medium heat. Drain fettuccine, and add to skillet with reduced broth. Cook over medium heat, tossing constantly with tongs, for a few minutes, until most of the broth has been absorbed. Add chives and a few grindings of black pepper; stir to combine. Divide between two deep serving plates; sprinkle evenly with toasted breadcrumbs. Serve with Parmesan cheese.

* To make fresh breadcrumbs: Cut day-old firm bread, such as French or Italian, into 1-inch cubes. Start a blender on high, with the blender cover in place. Lift the cover just enough to allow you to toss a handful of cubes into the blender jar, re-covering immediately; the bread will pop up and out of the blender with great vigor unless the blender is covered. Process until chopped to medium texture.

TIP: It can be difficult to judge when the broth has cooked down to 1⁄2 cup. Before you start cooking, pour 1⁄2 cup water into the skillet you’ll be using. Tilt the skillet so the water pools along one edge, and make a mental note of the level. When you’re reducing the broth, cook it to the same level; it doesn’t have to be exact. (Dry the skillet before toasting the breadcrumbs.)

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