Dinners alone at home for me are like grizzly bear sightings –- they don’t happen often, and in truth I wouldn’t want them to, but taken in isolation, they are really quite spectacular.
So it was the other night: my husband had taken the incipient pescetarian and her sister, bacon girl, to the ballet, and I arrived home after a long, cold walk from the metro, my fingertips tingling, my stomach growling and in search of something easy but uncommonly delicious.
If this is ever your situation -– because like me, you really wish you were the sort of person who liked the ballet but in truth you’d rather sit through a 12-inning baseball game and feel very badly about this shortcoming in your personality, or the rough equivalent, I suggest you head toward the search recipe window and type in “serves one.”
This has worked well for me in the past, but never quite as well and when it turned up Rhonda's Spaghetti with Fried Eggs and Pangritata for One as it did that night.
This is the sort of recipe that makes you deeply understand why people wish to live in Italy, even though it apparently takes plumbers two weeks to respond to calls and sometimes people run you over with mopeds.
I got my pasta water going first, because I did not want to be held hostage to a pot waiting to boil, and chopped up my garlic, so that would be at the ready.
Then, after turning on music that only I like, quite loudly, I started mixing up the pangritata, for which I used panko bread crumbs, which worked splendidly. (I pause here to acknowledge that you do need rosemary, which I just happened to have hanging around that night, and you will probably have to get that at the supermarket, where you will pass by some asparagus and feel ambivalent. Keep walking.)
Once you have that pan wiped out, add your garlic and watch it carefully, as Rhonda35 -- who happens to be Amanda’s sister, but don’t let that prejudice you one way or another -- warns. By now I have put up my pasta, because it is perciatelli, with which I am currently obsessed, and it takes a bit longer to cook than some other types, but I think was the right call for this recipe.
Please watch your heat, and as Rhonda35 says, you don’t want burned garlic (Ruined dish! Ruined dish!) or your egg to get too hard, which one can see could happen easily. Mixing this all together, your heart will do that little dance that I assume it always does when pasta and eggs are brought together with cheese. I did add some reserved pasta water, but that’s up to you. This is heaven in a bowl, 15 minutes flat. Rhonda asks that you now pour yourself some wine. Way ahead of you, lady.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/3 cup fresh or stale coarse breadcrumbs
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary leaves
- zest from half a lemon
1. Heat 2 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
2. Add the breadcrumbs and sauté until golden and crispy, about 4 to 5 minutes.
3. Add the rosemary, immediately remove from heat and allow to cool.
4. Mix in lemon zest and set aside.
Spaghetti and Eggs:
- 4 ounces spaghetti
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
- 1 teaspoon small capers, drained
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil and cook pasta to al dente according to directions on box. (I usually undercook the pasta by about a minute.)
2. Wipe out the skillet from the pangritata, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter and melt together over medium heat.
3. Add the garlic and immediately break the eggs into the skillet.
4. If need be, lower the heat a bit. You want the garlic to cook without burning and the egg whites to set, but the yolks to remain runny.
5. Drain the pasta well, reserving ½ cupof the cooking liquid.
6. Add pasta back to the pot, pour over the eggs and all the fat from the skillet, add the parsley and capers and toss well, breaking up the eggs as you do. If you prefer a wetter dish, you can add in some of the reserved cooking liquid.
7. Plate the pasta and eggs, season well with freshly ground black pepper, sprinkle with the grated cheese and then top with the pangritata.
8. Pour yourself a glass of wine and enjoy!
By day, Jennifer Steinhauer, aka Jenny, covers Congress for The New York Times. By night, she is an obsessive cook.