The well-fed poor man: Spaghetti with fried eggs

I stumbled upon a “minimalist” pasta recipe on NYTimes a few months ago, tried it, and was immediately hooked. It is essentially a healthier version of carbonara, but even without any meat or dairy, this dish is surprisingly rich. Although it’s supposedly known as “poor man’s spaghetti”, we tend to think of this dish as a treat, partly because it uses a fair bit of oil, and partly just because it’s so damn good it feels wrong.

I’ve always loved cream-based pasta (mmm fettucini alfredo) but have tried to avoid it ever since I realized how fattening it is. So I was happy to find such a simple recipe that gave me that creamy-pasta fix without any cream or butter or cheese. It can’t be mistaken for the “real thing”, that’s for sure, but this leaves me feeling full and light rather than full and heavy.

Here’s my modified, somewhat healthier take on the recipe posted by Mark Bittman, though I’m sure his is delicious as is. My version uses less oil, more garlic (without wasting it!), and adds a couple servings of vegetables for a well-balanced meal/so I don’t have to eat a salad on the side.

Spaghetti with fried eggs

1/2 pound spaghetti (whole-wheat if you like)
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 head garlic, lightly smashed and peeled
4 eggs
Freshly ground black pepper
Vegetables of your choice, diced (I like broccoli, onion, green pepper, tomato, carrots)
Various seasonings

1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Begin the next step, and start cooking the pasta (and carrots, if used) when the water boils.
2. Heat 1 tbsp oil in pan; cook vegetables and season. Transfer from pan to serving dish.
3. Combine garlic and 4 tablespoons of the oil over medium-low heat. Cook the garlic, pressing it into the oil occasionally to release its flavor; it should barely color on both sides. Transfer the garlic to the dish of cooked vegetables or use in garlic bread.
5. Fry the eggs gently in the oil, until the whites are just about set and the yolks still quite runny. Drain the pasta, and toss with the eggs and oil, breaking up the whites as you do. If the pasta has been sitting for a while, keep the heat while doing this. Season to taste, and serve immediately with vegetables either mixed in or as a side.

There are lots of other “poor man’s pasta” recipes online but a lot of them ask for bacon or cheese, based on the assumption that you’d have them lying around in the pantry or freezer. That’s kinda bougie if you ask me.


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