Wow… that title is a bit long, but it’s the best description I could come up with. This meal is absolutely delicious, quick and cheap. It is adapted from our favorite master chef – Jacques Pepin. On his PBS show Fast Food My Way (WATCH IT!!!), Jacques creates seemingly difficult and creative dishes in no time. He never attempts to wow you with his personality (charming, sweet, truly charismatic), made-up stories to keep you interested (unless you count recollections of his mother’s cooking in France growing up which you really know are true and actually want to hear) or his K-RAZY catch phrases (only at the beginning with a “Happy Cooking!” in his lovely French accent). Jacques is a true master in the food world and every time I watch him I not only immediately relax, but I always learn something new. I am in awe of him and I not-so-secretly wish he was my grandfather (no offense to my real grandfathers whom I love/loved very much).
Jacques original dish is called Bowtie Pasta with Fried Egg and Cheese. His recipe is very, very nice, but I tweaked it a bit. We love garlic and had to add it. Jacques uses gruyere cheese, but we’ve also done this dish with shredded mozzarella and fontina cheese. Both melt extremely well and give the dish an excellent flavor. Topping the pasta with a runny, fried egg brings this dish to another level. Make SURE you don’t overcook the egg! You’ll want that yolk to run all throughout the pasta, mixing with the other ingredients, almost creating a sauce. I’m salivating thinking about it now.
PASTA WITH LEEKS, ASPARAGUS, MUSHROOMS, GRUYERE AND A FRIED EGG
- 1/2 – 3/4 of a box of short pasta, whole wheat if you so choose (gemelli, penne, rigatoni, cavatelli, etc.)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 shallot, minced (optional)
- 1 leek, cleaned and thinly sliced
- 6 asparagus spears (make sure to cut off the woody bottom), grilled and then sliced into 2 inch pieces (you can also boil them or saute them if you don’t have a grill pan)
- 5 white button mushrooms, thickly sliced (1/4 inch slices)
- 1/4 pound shredded Gruyere cheese (or mozzarella, fontina)
- a palmful of shredded Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- 2 tablespoons butter
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- peperoncino (optional)
What to do:
- Heat up your grill pan (if you have one, if not, skip to #2)
- In a medium-high heated pan, suate your mushrooms in some olive oil. Sprinkle with a bit of salt. As soon as they take on bit of color (about 2 minutes), add your leeks and saute until soft. Mushrooms should not be mushy, but have a bit of give. If you over-saute them, no biggie. I just like the taste of a bit of firmness along with the asparagus… you may not care. Reserve in a bowl on the side.
- Grill your asapargus spears on your indoor or outdoor grill. Allow to cool and then cut into 2 inch pieces. (NOTE: If you do not have a grill pan, cut your raw asapargus into 2 inch pieces and saute in a bit of olive oil until cooked through – 3-4 minutes or so).
- Boil your water for the pasta and cook for alloted time until al dente.
- While pasta is cooking, in a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of olive oil, gently saute your shallots and garlic on medium-low (if you have the time, do it on low), so that they not only cook, but the flavor infuses into the butter/olive oil (5-8 minutes).
- In a separate pan, fry an egg in some olive oil. Make sure to only fry it on the other side for a second in order to keep the yolk runny! That makes the dish! Keep warm until ready.
- Drain your pasta, reserving about 1/2 a cup of the cooking liquid. Add your pasta to the pan with the shallots/garlic/butter/olive oil mixture (pan should be on low/medium-low heat. Add one more pat of butter (about a tablespoon) and toss. Next, add a dash of pasta water (about 1/4 cup at most), add back the other veggies and toss. Add a pinch of salt to your liking (always taste!). If you would like a stronger garlic flavor, add a pinch of garlic powder (NOT garlic salt if you’ve already added salt). Toss again.
- Add your gruyere first and then the parmagiano cheese. Continue to toss pasta until cheese is completely integrated into the dish and melted.
- Serve immediately, top each dish with a fried egg and some optional peperoncino if you want to add a kick to it.
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