Italian Pangrattato (Poor man’s Parmesan)

Looking for an easy vegan replacement for parmesan cheese? Try Pangrattato, also known as 'poor man's parmesan' and traditional to Italian cuisine.

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Who needs Parmesan if he has Pangrattato?

So, what’s there in Italian cuisine for the poor? A lot. Throughout history Italians have proven themselves to be very creative in coming up with tastefull staple foods for the poor. Lots of them became classics for everyone in Italy and outside Italy. For example Spaghetti Aglio e Olio.

Today another one: grated bread. Or, pangrattato, as it is called in Italian. If parmesan was not around, the Italians would grate bread, and toast it in a pan. And Italians wouldn’t be Italians if they wouldn’t know how to create maximum taste, while using the simplest of ingredients: olive oil, garlic, some chili flakes, salt, lemon zest and sometimes a bit of fresh herbs. Still cheaper than cheese, but full of flavor.

To cheese or not to cheese

There is debate about a number of pastas whether the traditional version is with cheese or not. Earlier we wrote about Penne all’Arrabbiata and that the traditional version is without cheese. But do you really like cheese on your pasta and want to keep it vegan? Try this Pangrattato! 

Which bread to use for Pangrattato

You can use any bread you have left. As you can see in the picture, I just used a leftover bun. The bread is there for structure, but since it’ll be toasted any kind of bread will work. Yes, stale bread too.

Kitchen utensils

  • Food processor
  • Saucepan


For a big bowl enough topping for 3 dishes

Bread, lemon, garlic, salt, chili flakes and olive oil are the ingredients for Pangrattato
  • 75 grams (9 Oz) of (stale) bread
  • 5 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of chili flakes
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon zest
  • A pinch of salt

How to make Pangrattato

Prep: 10 min. | Cook: 5 min.

  1. Grate 75 grams (9 Oz) of (stale) bread in a food processor such that you have a nice bowl of crumbs.
Pangrattato: grated bread.
This is just grated bread. Now it needs to be toasted and get some extra flavors.
  1. Chop up 4 cloves of garlic as small as possible.

  2. Grate the skin of a lemon such that you have a tablespoon of lemon zest.

  3. Heat up 5 tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan.

  4. If the oil is hot, add the garlic and chili flakes and stir for half a minute.

  5. Add the bread crumbs and stir well such that they are all covered in oil.

  6. When the bread starts to turn golden, add 1 tablespoon of lemon zest and a pinch of salt.

  7. Stir for half a minute more.
Pangrattato is cheap, easy, savory and just simply delicious


Recipe: Pangrattato
Prep: 10 min.
5 min.
15 min.
bread, lemon zest, garlic, chili flakes, olive oil
Type of meal: side dish, dip

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