Meal No. 21: Pasta Shards with Fresh Herbs; Poached Eggs with Brown Butter; Arugula and Avocado Salad; Tiramisu
Martha declares this a perfect midnight supper. Do people really eat three course meals at midnight?
The pasta and eggs is a simple recipe, easily cooked for a weeknight, which is exactly what I did. I had gotten duck eggs from a local farm and thought this would be a great way to try them out. The recipe calls for two per person, but the duck eggs are ginormo, so one sufficed. (They are also quite hard to crack; it took five whacks against the side of a bowl).
I was supposed to use lasagna noodles as the “pasta shards”, but I accidentally bought some that were no-cook (thanks, Trader Joe’s, with your super tiny No-Boil font!), so I had to use rigatoni instead. (Can you boil no-cook noodles?). The boiled pasta is tossed with some olive oil, red pepper flakes, chives and parsley, and a bit of reserved pasta water.
While the noodles were cooking, I poached the eggs, individually, then tossed them in a pan with some browned butter. The eggs were then ladled onto the pasta. I am sorry my runny yolk photo didn’t work out, as it’s definitely a more interesting dish when viewed through the lens of yellow goop. I like runny yolks, and if you don’t there is really no need to make this dish, as you may be permanently traumatized. The yolk is needed to make a “sauce” otherwise it’s pretty dry. And the egg doesn’t cook like in a carbonara, so it’s not like that, either. Just plain ole runny, delicious egg yolk.
The duck egg had a nice, rich yolk, so it was a good choice for the dish. The overall entrée was fine, but not spectacular. We both thought it needed another ingredient to make it really good, but we couldn’t think of what that might be. That makes us no better than Martha, I suppose.
The salad, on the other hand was sublime! It was served after the pasta, as a second course, or secondi.
There’s a side bar about how to make a great salad–balancing texture, appearance and flavor, and this one does all that. It consists of arugula, avocado, carrot strips, red onion, shaved parmesan, and pine nuts that have been toasted in olive oil. The oil that the nuts cooked in is used as the base for the salad dressing, with a bit of red wine vinegar and lemon juice for acidity. The oil picked up the nutty taste and really makes this a hearty dish. The sum was definitely more than its parts and we both loved it, although The Husband didn’t like the avocado in it, and gave his to me. I enjoyed it so much I woke up the next morning thinking about it, and had some for breakfast!
Arugula and Avocado Salad, adapted from Dinner at Home:
3 T extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c pine nuts
1 T red wine vinegar
1 T fresh lemon juice
2 oz arugula
1-2 carrots, sliced thinly into three inch pieces
1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced
1-2 ripe but firm avocados, pitted and thinly sliced
1 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shaved ( I used a blend that also contained Asiago)
Combine oil and pine nuts in a medium skillet and cook over medium heat, tossing occasionally, until nuts are golden brown. Remove from heat and let cool ten minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the nuts to a plate, then pour oil into a bowl and mix with vinegar and lemon juice.
Mix greens, carrots, avocado, carrots and onion in a bowl, toss with nuts and dressing. Top with cheese shavings.
Here’s a tip: we had a ton of arugula left over, having bought a sizable bag of it at the farmer’s market. I made a pesto with the arugula, olive oil, parmesan, and pine nuts. Yum! I put it on a pizza with some mushrooms and orange peppers, and the barest sprinkle of cheese. It was delicious.
Due to the dairy and chocolate in the recipe, I passed on making it myself, but will soon have a guest review by a friend who volunteered to make it!
Pasta + eggs: B
Dessert: Stay tuned!