Weeknight Cooking

Rhonda's Spaghetti with Fried Eggs and Pangritata for One

January  3, 2011

Rhonda's Spaghetti with Fried Eggs and Pangritata for One

- Jenny

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.

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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.

Jennifer Steinhauer

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magdance January 19, 2011
It is still great overcooked, and I hope it takes many more tries for me to get it exactly right:-)
magdance January 14, 2011
This was the best, even though I slightly overcooked the eggs. The combination of lemon zest in the panko and capers with the pasta makes it just acidic and aromatic enough to eat night after night.
Jestei January 18, 2011
i have made this many times now and overcooked the eggs half the time. it is still good right?
phyllis January 18, 2011
It's definitely still delicious, even if you overcook the egg. I made this, and also other versions of egg over/under, e.g., fried rice, etc. Sometimes the egg is perfect; sometimes not. It's still good.
Lori L. January 13, 2011
This dish caught my eye immediately and I couldn't wait to try it. I saved it for last night when I expected to be eating alone, but my husband came home early. I quickly doubled the ingredients. We were both smitten by the crunchy texture of the breadcrumbs, the savory-ness of the eggs, and the overall tastiness of the whole dish. This will become a staple in our menu. Thank you for sharing it!
Jestei January 18, 2011
so glad you liked it. wonder if you used panko.
Jeandsanders January 9, 2011
I have just sent this to our college-age pescetarian, and I know she will just love it. I am the bacon lover, and will toss some crumbled into ours for Monday night pasta. Thanks for what will undoubtedly be a memorable dish!
Jestei January 18, 2011
oh how did she like it?
aricooks January 6, 2011
simple perfection. oh how I love pasta and eggs.
Jestei January 18, 2011
that makes two of us
Aliwaks January 6, 2011
YUM! that is a variation my own favorite home alone dinner, in place of capers I toss in one smushed up anchovy and a wee bit of dried red pepper flakes.
Jestei January 18, 2011
love love love anchovy idea
Ashli January 4, 2011
Made this tonight, and my husband love loved it! Thanks so much for the recipe so easy and delicious.
Jestei January 5, 2011
so glad you liked it!
drbabs January 4, 2011
I love this--have made it before--really great. Thanks, Jenny and Rhonda!
Jestei January 5, 2011
Make it again!
TasteFood January 4, 2011
I really love the sound of this. 6 more hours until dinner...
Jestei January 5, 2011
Hope you loved it!
Sagegreen January 4, 2011
This looks like a great idea for dinner tonight: Thanks for fishing this one out!
Sagegreen January 4, 2011
This was a really lovely dinner for one tonight! I added a bit of chopped up chicken breast with lemon juice and cilantro to the recipe. Even have some leftovers. Great recipe. Thanks, Jennie and Rhonda!
Jestei January 5, 2011
cilantro. how interesting. yummy.
mcs3000 January 3, 2011
Made this from Amanda's book - delish. First time for 2; second alone. Watched trash TV the latter time. I skipped over to @Rhonda35's page and noticed that sometimes she'll just eat ice cream when she's alone =)
Jestei January 5, 2011
don't we all?
Oui, C. January 3, 2011
Yum....I'll be making this dish VERY soon! - S
Jestei January 5, 2011
phyllis January 3, 2011
This sounds so delicious. I love pasta and runny eggs. Thanks Rhonda and Jen!! I'm going to cook it for two this week.
Jestei January 3, 2011
sounds great!
phyllis January 4, 2011
Thanks so much, Jen & Rhonda. I cooked this for dinner tonight for my husband and me--I know it's for one, but I like to share. Because I can't follow a recipe without changing it, I added some peas to the pasta as it was cooking, and a little (about 2-3 oz) of mild smoked salmon as a garnish. This was SO good. I'm completely satisfied and stuffed. Great comfort meal.
Rhonda35 January 4, 2011
Well, Phyllis, that sounds particularly delicious! Love the smoked salmon idea. Glad you enjoyed this recipe.
healthierkitchen January 3, 2011
Sounds soooo good - will have to manufacture a night alone! Love the piece, Jenny!
Jestei January 3, 2011
or just double up like other cooks!
Midge January 3, 2011
Oh yum. I don't think I can wait to have the house to myself to make this. Might just have to double it for dinner tonight.
Jestei January 3, 2011
kindly post your results!
Midge January 8, 2011
I made this for two using anchovy in place of capers and it was sooo delicious. Next time I double it I may top each individual bowl of pasta with the eggs, etc. A great argument for keeping fresh homemade breadcrumbs on hand for emergency cravings!
KitchenLittle January 3, 2011
As always, a great dish and a great story. Thanks Jenny.
Jestei January 3, 2011
thank you so much!!
Rhonda35 January 3, 2011
Wow! My 15 minutes of fame intertwined with cheese, eggs, pasta, wine and Jenny's humor - who could ask for more? Love it! So glad you tried this, Jen - it is a good recipe to have in your back pocket. Now if we could all just get the house to ourselves just a little more often...
Jestei January 3, 2011
oh you are WAY more famous than that!
pattym January 3, 2011
I make this dish every so often after reading about it in Amanda's cookbook. But have never done pangritata. Sounds so good!
Jestei January 3, 2011
i have to say i think it is a great touch and with panko all the more so
JenniferF January 3, 2011
Looks delish. Perfect for a Monday night dinner.
Jestei January 3, 2011
Will you eat it alone?