One of my favorite rejoinders when accosted by salesfolk in clothing stores comes when they ask, Looking for anything special?
Of course, I say. Im always looking for something special.
Its a joke, but I do pursue clothing that I think wont show up being worn by every other co-worker at the office or every other stranger in a restaurant. I feel the same way about cooking; I want ingredients that put a twist on a dish. For a long while, one of those ingredients has been the egg. Ive been known to put a runny-yolk egg on just about any dish in need of a little oomph.
At a recent event in Atlanta to promote my new book, though, one of the audience members asked me how my palate has changed in my year-plus of committed vegetarianism, and the answer surprised me as soon as I realized it: Ive been putting fewer eggs on things. The more vegetarian dishes I cook (and eat), the more my palate is appreciating combinations that dont require a hit of golden-yolk protein to make them feel satisfying.
That doesnt mean I dont like eggs-for-dinner anymore. When I was flipping through Lara Ferronis recent book, Put an Egg on It: 70 Delicious Dishes That Deserve a Sunny Topping (Sasquatch, 2013), more than one recipe jumped out at me. But it was the combination of spaghetti, wilted greens, a quick pesto and roasted cherry tomatoes that quickly made it into my dinner lineup. With a sunny-side-up egg on top (sprinkled with crushed red pepper flakes), it was rich and hearty yet also bright and spicy just the thing for this time of year.
When I ate what was left over the next night, without the egg, I liked it just as much. I didnt miss the egg not then, anyway. When I do miss it, Ill fry one up and put it on whatever I want.
Ill do that not because an egg is the default, or a reflex. It will be because the egg is special.
To see a printable recipe, click on link below:
PREHEAT oven to 400 degrees.
BRING a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add spaghetti and cook according to the package directions, leaving it slightly underdone. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.
ARRANGE tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until they begin to burst, 10 to 15 minutes.
COMBINE pistachios, parsley, basil, garlic and cheese in a food processor; pulse until finely chopped. With the motor running, pour in 2 tablespoons of the oil to create a chunky puree. Season with salt to taste.
POUR remaining tablespoon of oil into a large skillet over low heat if using the eggs Add eggs, cover and cook until the whites have set but the yolks are still runny, about 5 minutes. Carefully transfer the eggs to a plate, leaving the skillet on the burner.
INCREASE heat to medium-high; stir the kale or greens into the skillet, tossing until wilted, about 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium; stir in the drained pasta and cook just until warmed through, about 2 minutes. Add the pesto along with about 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta cooking water, tossing the pasta and kale or greens to incorporate. Add pasta cooking water as needed to keep the sauce creamy.
DIVIDE pasta among individual bowls. Top each portion with an egg, if using, one-quarter of the cherry tomatoes, a sprinkling of the cheese and the crushed red pepper flakes, if using.
NOTE: Toast pistachios in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat for a few minutes, until fragrant and lightly browned, shaking the pan to avoid scorching. Cool completely before using.Yield: 4 to 6 servings Per serving (based on 6): 350 calories, 13 g protein, 50 g carbohydrates, 11 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 80 mg sodium, 4 g dietary fiber, 3 g sugar