Thursday, July 1, 2010

Spaghetti with Fried Eggs

PBS has this amazing channel that is an amalgamation of DIY, HGTV, Travel Channel, and Food Network. It's called Create. Since I don't have cable, I find myself going back to commercial free goodness of PBS. Sure, some of the food shows don't have anyone screaming "Bam!" or my girl Giada pushing her boobs together while she bites into Nutella covered fruit, but the programming is quality.

One of my favorite PBS programs is America's Test Kitchen. Each episode is dedicated to a single dish or theme, where they have worked and tested to create the "perfect" recipe. I especially love the bow-tie guy who has to blindly test things like jarred salsa and boxed brownies and pick one he likes best (he usually just picks the one he hates the least). So I was quite excited when I found a cookbook they had written specifically for two (thank you JCLC!). This particular recipe is from "Cooking for Two, 2009" (yes, there is a 2010.... I can only hope there is a 2011!)

Well gang, Dennis is out of town for a few days. So I am back to cooking for one till he returns. I had a fridge full of veggies, but it was getting late and I was hungry. For whatever reason, I decided to just make a very simple pantry meal that I discovered in this book, Spaghetti with Fried Eggs. I was a little weirded out by the thought... but after reading the ingredients list I realized I had everything in my pantry. Score! My tummy was doing the thinking.

Okay, so this is a snap to put together. I took photos of the process, but it's rather boring. You basically toast up some bread crumbs, infuse olive oil with garlic and chili flakes, cook pasta, and fry some eggs... and you are done. This recipe could have easily been halved for one, but I wanted the left overs for breakfast tomorrow. Be warned, the recipe is kind of long winded. But it tells you what to do exactly, so there is no confusion.

This is kind of carb fest (pasta with a bread sauce?), but I made it a little healthier by using whole what spaghetti and reducing the olive oil a bit. I was kind of shocked by how much I liked it. So if you are reading this and crinkling your nose... STOP! Give it a whirl the next time you find absolutely nothing in your fridge.

Infusing olive oil, very low heat!

Toasted bread crumbs? Check!

Fried eggs, before I put the lid on to cook the top.

The main event with sliced tomatoes, basil, and balsamic vinegar.

Spaghetti with Fried Eggs
(Serves Two)

2 slices high-quality white sandwich bread, torn into quarters.
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
Pinch red pepper flakes
1/2 pound spaghetti
1/2 grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
2 large eggs, cracked into a small bowl

1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 300 degrees. Pulse the bread in a food processor to coarse crumbs, about 10 pules. Transfer the crumbs to a bowl and stir in 1 tablespoon of the oil, pinch of salt, and a pinch of pepper. Spread the crumbs out on a rimmed baking sheet and bake, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and dry, about 25 minutes.

2. Cook 2 tablespoons more oil, garlic, pepper flakes, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over low heat, stirring constantly, until the garlic foams and is sticky and straw colored, 8-10 minutes. Transfer the garlic mixture to a small bowl and set aside. Wipe out the skillet with a wad of paper towels and set aside.

3. Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large pot. Add the pasta and 1 tablespoon salt, and cook, stirring often, until al dente. A minute or two before draining the pasta, return the skillet to low heat for 5 minutes (for the eggs). Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta and return it to the pot.

4. Stir 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking water, garlic mixture, and 2 tablespoons more oil, the cheese, and 1/4 teaspoon salt into the pasta. Cover and set aside to keep warm while cooking eggs.

5. When the skillet is hot, add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and swirl to coat the pan. Quickly add the eggs to the skillet and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny, 2 to 3 minutes. Uncover the eggs and remove from heat.

6. Loosen the pasta with the remaining reserved cooking water as desired, then divide it between two individual serving bowls. Sprinkle each serving with the bread crumbs. Carefully slide the 1 fried egg on top of the pasta in each bowl and serve, passing extra Parmesan separately.

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