Friday, April 25, 2014

Easter Egg Pasta

The most recent issue of Bon Appétit is pretty brilliant; while I read it every month upon arrival in my mailbox, this month’s copy has myriad recipes that I truly want to make, flagged with hot pink Post It notes.  On the list of intriguing items, there was a short article on various uses for leftover Easter Eggs.  Though I don’t celebrate Easter, but I do enjoy eggs.  One of the recipes was for a garlic-olive oil-anchovy-based pasta that was finished with grated hardboiled eggs and parsley.  I would never in a million years imagined adding hardboiled eggs to my pasta, but the rest of the ingredients are some of my all time favorites, and the addition of the eggs was intriguing enough for me.
I have been a long time fan of pasta dressed in garlic-lemon oil, and finished with a ton of parsley and Parmesan.  There are many variations to this theme:  a little anchovy paste sautéed with the garlic; a few capers; olives; a splash of white wine.  Nonetheless, the result is always some version of lemony, bright, garlicky pasta, with a healthy dose of freshness from plenty of chopped parsley and salty Parmesan.  It’s a recipe for success. 
This Easter-inspired version is exactly that with the addition of hardboiled egg.  It’s certainly a strange idea, but I enjoyed it at every turn.  For starters, I’ve never grated an egg before, which turned out to be a satisfying experience.  Using the large holes of a box grater, the soft egg all but disappeared with a few stokes, resulting in stands of egg white and crumbles of egg yolk, ready to absorb the salty, rich dressing on the pasta.  The richness of the egg juxtaposes nicely against the coarsely chopped parsley leaves, which render this dish almost to a salad like state. 
This dish is rich, but well balanced.  I did not skimp on the anchovy paste, which was evident in the toasted brown color that the pasta took on when it was tossed with the spicy, anchovy-infused oil.  This richness is then tempered by multiple elements.  The first and most obvious is the parsley leaves; peppery, a little lemony, and decidedly green in flavor, they impart lightness with both their flavor and texture.  Ironically, the egg also lends levity that is unexpected.  The yolks and whites act in very different ways.  The yolk coats the pasta and absorbs the olive oil-based sauce, softening the flavors from preserved fish and red chile flakes.  On the other hand, the egg whites provide lightness with tenderness and little volume.  Basically, they prevent the pasta from being construed as a big, dense heap of carbs, a noble and necessary task.  I’m sure the entire idea sounds bizarre (hardboiled eggs in pasta?), but it was quite delightful.  And a senior food editor at Bon Appétit created this concoction, not me, so hopefully that indicates that this is a legitimate recipe, as opposed to me losing my mind with my pasta-loving ways. 

Easter Egg Pasta (adapted from Bon Appétit)
Makes 2 servings

1/4 pound short cut pasta, like campanelle or fusilli
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 teaspoons anchovy paste
3 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons capers
2 hard boiled eggs, coarsely grated
1/2 cup coarsely chopped Italian parsley leaves

-       In salted boiling water, cook pasta until it is al dente per package directions.  Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water, and drain the pasta.  Set aside.
-       In a sauté pan, cook garlic, red chile flakes, lemon zest, and anchovy paste in the olive oil for about 3 minutes.
-       Add pasta to the pan, and toss to coat.  Season with freshly ground black pepper.
-       Add lemon juice, capers, and Parmesan.  Add a few tablespoons of the reserved pasta cooking water if the mixture seems dry. 
-       Add the parsley and hard-boiled eggs.  Garnish with more cheese and parsley if desired.

1 comment:

  1. I need to get my eyes examined - I looked at this whole recipe and thought where's the pasta - I thought it was corn! looks delicious now that I figured it out.