Poached Eggs with Spinach and Pasta

Sometimes you’re just craving pasta… Even at 10:47 in the morning. Appropriate? Maybe.

Perhaps that’s why I love brunch so much. Got some vodka? Add some juice, and magically daydrinking is now encouraged. Take your favorite thing to eat at dinner, throw an egg on it, and VOILA! It’s now acceptable to eat it before noon. Some of my favorite brunchie things are any type of steak and eggs (I had a chimichurri flank steak and eggs at Dexter’s Winter Park that was amazing) and crab cakes eggs bennedict (the gold standard of this is at HUE in Thornton Park, but I heard they are now closed, which may be good because I can only justify paying $14 for this dish there). Sadly I don’t keep crab cakes on hand.

So I rummaged around in my fridge once I finally put my book down, because sleeping in and reading a good book in bed is quickly taking precedent over cardio tennis at 9 in the morning. I do fancy myself a Kitchen MacGyver and I love a good challenge. Kinda feels like Iron Chef, and today’s secret ingredient was the leftover whole wheat penne I’ve had shoved in the back of the fridge since making the conscious decision to slow way, way down on the amount of bread and pasta that I eat. This decision was also made before my friends and I decided to make homemade pizzas nearly every other day for a week, which explained the open jar of pizza sauce sitting in the fridge amongst all of the lovely fruits and veggies I just bought and have barely touched. I blame it on all of the work functions, the awesome friends that I have that just love to share great food in unorthodox abundance, and this new beau of mine that enjoys treating this lady to culinary adventures around town. It’s not entirely my fault.

But since I turned down the urges to order pizza and wings at midnight and opted for a good night’s sleep, I will indulge in a little pasta this morning. Topped with eggs, of course.

Weeee!

You’ll need:

2 eggs
Apple cider vinegar (or any other light colored vinegar, like white wine, just please no balsamic!)
Some kind of tomato-based sauce (pizza sauce, pasta sauce, whatever)
Pasta (any shape and kind will do)
A big handful of spinach

1. Get a pot of water to a rolling boil, salt it, and drop in your pasta. Cook it like usual, for about 7 minutes or until al dente.

2. While your pasta is cooking, get a frying pan, preferably a deep one, and fill it about half way with some water and a good splash of your vinegar of choice. If you need definition of a ‘good splash’, take that as 3-4 tablespoons. Bring this to a soft simmer.

3. Once the water in the pan is lightly bubbling, crack your eggs and slowly add them into the water. This is called poaching. The vinegar in the water and the temperature will keep the whites from making a huge mess. After about 2 minutes, you can take a slotted spoon and gently turn them over in their bath. If you like runny yolks like me, take them out of the water after another 2 minutes and place them on a paper towel to drain. For fully cooked yolks, go for a full 3 minutes.

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4. After the pasta is done, drain it, add it back to the pot, and throw in your handful of spinach. Wilt the spinach, which won’t take too long because of the heat of the pasta. Toss in a few spoonfuls of your tomato sauce to coat the pasta and heat through.

5. Put the pasta and spinach into a bowl, then top with your poached eggs. I added a chiffonade of fresh basil and some pepper, but you could also throw on a little grated Italian cheese or a drizzle of quality olive oil.

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Zucchini ‘Fries’

Zucchini is a great vegetable that is readily available and especially cheap when it’s in season in the summer. Oddly enough I get into a rut when it comes to using it. I love grilling it in long strips and throwing the leftovers in an antipasta salad the next day, cubing it for kabobs, or sautéing it with a little oil and garlic. But that’s where my mental block begins!

There is a place that I absolutely love here in Orlando called Graffiti Junktion. Aside from their amazing burgers, they make the best zucchini fries served up with a dish of spicy remoulade similar to the dressing you’d get with a blooming onion. I have eaten an entire bacon cheddar burger and split an order of zucchini fries a few occasions. It could possibly be the best hangover helper I’ve ever encountered. However, sometimes your body tells you that you need to forego the beef patty the size of your face and all of the deep-fried goodness. This recipe by no means replaces the Junktion’s zucchini fries, but it does make for a nice substitute you can make at home and feel good about.

3 medium-sized zucchini cut into sticks about the size of your finger
Salt
2 large eggs
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
½ cup Parmesan cheese (I like the shredded kind, personally)
1 Tbs dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano

1. Toss your zucchini sticks in a liberal amount of salt. Leave them in a colander over the sink for at least an hour. This will release excess water in the zucchini, so they come out more firm than mushy. Watch the magic happen!

2. After the zucchini have done their thing, rinse them well to remove the salt, then thoroughly pat them dry with paper towels.

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3. Preheat your oven to 425 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

4. Beat your eggs in a bowl large enough to dip your zucchini sticks in to coat them.

5. Mix the bread crumbs, parmesan, and herbs in a separate dish large enough to dredge the battered zucchini in. My favorite method is to put this into a large Tupperware container (the kind I’d use for a salad), then add no more than 2 or 3 sticks at a time. Hold the container over the sink and gently knock the sides with your hand to coat.

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6. Place the sticks on your baking sheet with just enough room so that they don’t touch. Bake for 12-15 minutes before flipping and baking for another 12-15 minutes, or until they are golden all around.

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Serve them up with your favorite dipping sauce!