After we all took the dogs up the road to the top of the hill and back the other morning it was time to warm up with some hot coffee for the parents, and hot cocoa and oatmeal for the kid. As we slowly thawed out from freezing temperatures and light snow flurries my thoughts turned to one of my favorite breakfasts when I used to visit my mom and stepdad in their house in the Pennsylvania Poconos: breakfast spaghetti.
As usual when talking to the kid, my retelling turned into part reminiscence and part teaching.
Everyone in the family loves this dish, which is wonderful on a cold morning, easy to prepare and easy on your budget. The ingredients for breakfast spaghetti are simple:
- Leftover pasta
- Minced garlic cloves, one or two depending on your garlic-philia
- Plenty of olive oil
- 1-2 beaten eggs
- Salt and pepper to taste, and other herbs as desired, for example, oregano or basil.
In a well-oiled skillet heated to low-medium, sauté the garlic until soft but not brown. This will only take a minute or so. Turn up the heat to medium and stir in the leftover pasta to coat with olive oil. Continue stirring frequently as the pasta heats up. Pour in the beaten eggs and mix in gently until the eggs are just firm. Finally, season to taste and serve immediately.
To me this dish and the dinner variation below are a culinary equivalent to lyric poetry: brief, simple, unadorned, made out of common ingredients, and beautiful.
For the dinner variation, a classic pasta entrée that only uses olive oil as a sauce, substitute a can of well-drained and washed chickpeas for the eggs. You can also use dried chickpeas that you have prepared first, which taste much better. I have my trustworthy Fagor pressure cooker for this. But using canned chickpeas keeps the virtue of a rapidly prepared and delicious simple meal.
It never hurts to enhance the dish by also sautéing some fresh, coarsely chopped tomatoes and spinach or the greens of your choice.
Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and serve with a simple mixed-greens salad dressed with homemade balsamic vinaigrette, another elegant and simple culinary treat. Enjoy with a nice wine. This would be a white-wine dish if you were a wine snob. Since there’s nothing snobby in the origins of this meal, go ahead and drink confidently from any red wine you want. Red wine from a box will make the perfect anti-snobbery statement. Make sure to prominently display the box as the centerpiece.
My stepfather Joe used to whip this up on a cold morning. A first generation American of Italian descent, Joe and his brothers and sisters lived through the depression by eating pasta their mother prepared. Cheap and plentiful, easy to make from scratch, and able to be prepared with endless variations, pasta was the survival food for an entire generation of poor Italian immigrants and anyone else lucky enough to share their tables before pasta became a thing for the rest of America.
If you’ve never tasted fresh pasta, and by that I mean home-made with semolina flour and not the upscale fresh pasta imprisoned in plastic in a supermarket refrigerator, you’ve never really tasted food that is the equivalent of a bel canto aria, of a poem. Linguine is easy to make – I urge you to look up a recipe and give it a try. Maybe I’ll make a future post on it.