Monday, March 12, 2012

Spaghetti with Asparagus, Egg, and Parmesan: a Mutant Freak of Deliciousness

This post first appeared in April 2009.

Though I’m cooking more often now, creating my own recipes continues to scare the living daylights out of me. My self-spawned dishes tend to be three-out-of-five star affairs, meaning they’re servable, but won’t necessarily knock your socks off. See, I’m still mastering certain techniques (read: all of them), and find pairing flavors tougher than Advanced Calculus. (Hey, if mathematicians had to eat their results, they’d have never picked up calculators in the first place.)

So, when I invent something that actually works, it’s like … it’s like … hm … how to express this without resorting to hyperbole?

Oh! I have it. It’s like riding a golden unicorn over a rainbow while world peace breaks out in the background. Or U2 playing an acoustic gig in my living room as I’m hand-fed chocolate-covered strawberries by Raoul Bova. Or taking a permanent vacation from my job, but with eternal severance pay and health benefits. (Dare to dream.)

Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating. But it is pretty cool. And today’s recipe, Spaghetti with Asparagus, Egg, and Parmesan, is one of those rare triumphs.

Tuesday night, I was in a spaghetti mood, but had a use-it-or-lose-it pound of asparagus whiling away in the crisper drawer. With no funghi available, Pasta with Asparagus and Mushrooms was out of the question. So was Roasted Asparagus with Poached Egg and Parmesan, since I reallyreallyreally wanted some pasta. But both recipes fused together? That could work.

And did it EVER. It’s my new favorite comfort food. Creamy and cheesy and asparagus-y, I can see myself eating this over and over again until my death in 2097. (Yes, I’m shooting for 120. Believe in the stars!) And? AND? I would say I could eat 14 bowls of the stuff, but a single serving filled me to the brim.

Of course, should you decide to give it a shot:

1) To cut the fat even further, omit ½ tablespoon olive oil and a little parmesan.

2) Don’t throw out the pasta water. Love it. Be liberal with it. It’s vital to everything.

And that’s it, folks. Have a lovely weekend, and experiment if you get the chance. Occasionally, it’s worth it.

Spaghetti with Asparagus, Egg, and Parmesan
Serves 3

8 oz thin spaghetti
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound medium-thin asparagus, rough ends snapped off, cut into 1-inch pieces
Cooking spray
3 eggs
½ tablespoon tap water
Kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper
2 dashes cayenne pepper
¼ cup grated parmesan

1) Cook pasta ‘til al dente and drain, reserving ¾ cup of cooking water.

2) Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add asparagus and saute for 4 or 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add ¼ cooking water and cook for another 3 or 4 minutes, until asparagus is crisp-tender.

3) In the meantime, spray a small nonstick pan with cooking spray. Crack three eggs into it, and add ½ tablespoon tap water. Cover and cook over low heat for a few minutes, until the top of the yolks cloud, but are still soft and runny. Remove from heat.

4) When the asparagus is done cooking, add drained pasta to the pan, stirring to reheat if necessary. Off heat, add the remaining ½ cup of cooking water, cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir.

5) Ladle pasta into bowls along with 1 tablespoon water/sauce from bottom of pan (or more, if you like). Place egg on top and sprinkle with about 1-1/2 tablespoons parmesan cheese. Break egg, mix everything together, and enjoy.

Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price Per Serving
446 calories, 13.4 g fat, $1.24

8 oz thin spaghetti: 800 calories, 4 g fat, $0.33
1 tablespoon olive oil: 119 calories, 13.5 g fat, $0.12
1 pound medium-thin asparagus: 91 calories, 0.5 g fat, $1.99
Cooking spray: negligible calories and fat, $0.03
3 eggs: 221 calories, 14.9 g fat, $0.55
½ tablespoon tap water: negligible calories and fat, $0.00
Kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper: negligible calories and fat, $0.02
2 dashes cayenne pepper: negligible calories and fat, $0.01
¼ cup grated parmesan:108 calories, 7.2 g fat, $0.68
TOTAL: 1339 calories, 40.1 g fat, $3.73
PER SERVING (TOTAL/3): 446 calories, 13.4 g fat, $1.24

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