Friday, October 9, 2015

Pasta Pangrattato with Crispy Egg

Since getting involved with Food52's contests, I've been more active on the site, especially when it comes to exploring other members' recipes. It's been a great resource for dinner inspiration, especially when I'm in a slump.

A few weeks ago, I stumbled on a really amazing recipe. I had planned on making the usual pasta with tomato sauce and grilled sausage for dinner but as the clock crept closer and closer to the end of the workday, that meal sounded less and less appealing. So, I hopped onto Food52 and started browsing through the pasta recipes and I found Rhonda's Spaghetti with Fried Eggs & Pangritata. I was mostly intrigued because in her little introductory blurb, she mentions that she got so obsessed with the dish that her sister might have had to do an intervention. I have a pretty obsessive personality too so I could totally empathize and it made me want to try the recipe, even with the risk of obsession and interventions.

As I am prone to doing, I read through the recipe, shut my computer, and then kind of did my own thing. I like taking a general idea and running with it. It makes it much easier for me because I'm not constantly running back to my computer to see what the next step is. Plus, I tend to customize recipes anyway; in this example, I've added a few extra ingredients, I used oregano instead of rosemary because we still have it growing like crazy in the garden, and I've also upped the spice levels 400%. I also changed the name of the recipe slightly because, thanks to Duolingo (which I was using daily the first quarter of this year, prior to my trip to Italy) I know the word for breadcrumbs is "pangrattato." I know, I'm like an amazing linguist.
Ingredients [serves 4]:
pangrattato
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons crushed pepper flakes
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon minced oregano
¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
½ teaspoon salt

pasta
1 lb. pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 chili pepper, sliced
1 tablespoon capers
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons black pepper

crispy eggs
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 eggs

toppings
1 cup cherry tomatoes
shaved parmesan

Before you do anything, get a big pot and fill it up with water and get it on to boil. Waiting on pasta water is the worst.

Once that's out of the way, you can get started chopping up your vegetables and herbs.
To make the seasoned pangrattato, grab a small pan and add in one tablespoon of butter and one tablespoon of olive oil. Use a really flavorful olive oil and you will be rewarded.
Once that's hot, add in the garlic, hot pepper flakes, lemon zest, and oregano. Cook until the garlic is lightly toasted and golden brown.
Add in the breadcrumbs and salt and toss around until every single crumb is coated in the flavorful oil. Keep toasting the breadcrumbs until they're golden brown and gorgeous. Remove from the heat and set aside.

By the way, if you want a little history, these breadcrumbs were used by poor people who didn't have cheese for their pasta. It was a way to mimic the salty, nutty flavor of parmesan cheese. Pretty resourceful, right?
Cut the cherry tomatoes in half, arrange on a sheet pan, and pop in the broiler for about 5 minutes or until they're roasted and lightly charred.
When the pasta water is at a boil, generously season with salt and add in the pasta. Cook until al dente.
In the five or six minutes it takes for the pasta to cook through, you'll want to get started on the pasta seasonings. So, get another skillet out and pop over a medium heat. Add in a tablespoon of butter and 2 tablespoons of oil.
Add in the garlic and chili peppers and let them sizzle and cook until the garlic is lightly toasted.
Once the garlic is looking good, add in the capers and the drained pasta. Toss to coat in oil and then squeeze in the lemon juice and crack in some black pepper and give it another toss.
Spoon the pasta out into bowls and spoon on some of the pangrattato.
Back in the same breadcrumb skillet, add in a generous glug of olive oil (about 1 tablespoon per egg) and pop it over high heat. Fry the eggs until the edges are golden and crispy. If the tops are still looking a little wobbly, grab a spoon; tilt the pan, use the spoon to scoop up some oil, and then baste the tops of the eggs. This is how my ex-boyfriend would always cook his eggs so doing this always reminds me of him; sorry about that personal, non-relevant anecdote. I also enhanced this technique by heating the pan up super hot before the egg even goes in so it bubbles up. I learned about this on Smitten Kitchen; she makes me want to go out and buy an adorable mini cast iron skillet.
Nestle the fried eggs right on top of the pasta and then finish it off with a little more pangrattato, the roasted tomatoes, and some shaved parmesan. I used the delicious cheese we smuggled in from Italy.
In addition to being supremely beautiful, this simple dish is so delicious. I love the crunch and the garlicky goodness of the breadcrumbs contrasted with the silky pasta. Jabbing the fork into the egg causes the unctuous yolk to drip out and coat the pasta. The tomatoes burst with sweetness. And the spice! I love the spiciness the most. It takes this kid-friendly dish and makes it grownup.
Here's the recipe page:

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