When it comes to comfort food, the simple dishes composed by my mother and grandmother with very few ingredients still hold pride of place in my recipe collection.
Mom’s open faced grilled cheese sandwiches rich with thick slices of extra sharp cheddar cheese, topped with tomatoes, spring quickly to mind. The steaming bowls of elbow macaroni doused in warm milk, melted butter and pecorino romano cheese that my grandmother considered “sick food” are an easy second.
Whenever I feel poorly (physically or spiritually), I’m apt to comfort myself with either of those dishes or both.
Another dish that is so appealing is the mix of pasta and “runnyside eggs,” as we used to call them, that grandma produced every once in a while if we were either really good or really sick.
I hadn’t made that dish in quite a while but recently, while watching a food show on television, there it was – runnyside eggs with pasta – at the center of a challenge between two chefs. I didn’t even wait for them to finish their results. I went out into the kitchen and whipped up grandma’s version. The taste was so good, so comforting and the preparation time so minimal, that I decided to begin our annual Lenten recipe series with it.
This year, we’re focusing on comfort food – simple, easy recipes made of few ingredients – like Grandma’s Runnyside Eggs and Pasta – which, in their simplicity, reward both body and soul. I think you’ll find this dish does both. Serve with a tossed salad and a loaf of crusty, Italian bread and enjoy every mouthful.
Pasta and Runnyside Eggs
- 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 2 garlic cloves; thinly sliced
- 4 eggs
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese plus additional cheese for the table
- /4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
- tbsp. herbes de Provence.
- 1 (16-ounce) package uncooked linguine
The trick with this dish is to time things so that the pasta and eggs are simultaneously cooked and piping hot. Cook the pasta al dente according to the package directions. While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil and butter in a large frying pan over low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for two minutes.
Add the eggs and cook, sunny-side up, basting them with the pan juices without turning until they are just about set. The yolks should be the consistency of a soft boiled egg and the whites, while set, should look a bit runny. Remove the eggs from heat and place them on a warm plate, sprinkle them with salt and pepper.
Drain the pasta and toss it with Romano cheese, herbs de Provence and parsley. Divide the pasta among four individual warmed serving bowls and pour the pan drippings equally on top of the individual pastas, then top each portion with an egg. Serve with additional cheese at the table.
The best part is that each diner gets to break up the egg and mix it into the pasta to create the wonderfully simple and delectable sauce. Additional cheese only adds to the delight.
Let us pray:
Lord Jesus Christ, may our Lenten fasting turn us toward all our brothers and sisters who are in need. Bless this table, this good food and ourselves. Send us through Lent with good cheer, and bring us to the fullness of your Passover. Amen.
– Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers