Level Up Your Simple Pasta Dinner With A Fried Egg

Keeping a well-stocked pantry is the key to always having something to make for dinner when there's no time to stop at the grocery store (hello, goulash). Even when there's not much food in the fridge or the cupboards, however, you can still get pretty creative. In fact some of the most iconic dishes in the world were invented by clever chefs wanting to use up whatever ingredients they had on hand, like the Caesar salad. Even if you're not up for inventing a new signature dish, you can still make a gourmet, satisfying meal with just a box of spaghetti or linguini, garlic, olive oil, and a fried egg.

There's no official name for the combination of stringy pasta and fried eggs, and you don't need a recipe to pull it off. It's just a great way to use up leftover pasta and prevent food waste (or you can make a batch of fresh noodles). If you have some panko breadcrumbs, fresh herbs, lemon, or capers, you can make your spaghetti dish extra-fancy. But with just the basic ingredients you can have dinner on the table in 15 minutes flat.

Cook your pasta and assemble the ingredients

Linguini, spaghetti, and even angel hair pasta topped with a fried egg is as easy as making a pot of pasta and frying an egg. No really, it's that simple. Start by making a batch of pasta, which takes about 10 minutes. You don't even need fresh pasta, however, as this combo is just as tasty if you use cold pasta leftover from last night. If you're making your pasta fresh, have that going in a pot while you make your egg in a separate pan.

To make the fried egg, use a large skillet that will be able to hold the volume of the pasta you want to use. Factor one egg and one clove of garlic for every portion of your pasta. Heat the garlic over medium heat in oil or butter for a minute or two, then add the egg. Make sure that you leave the egg runny; the yolk will break when you mix the egg up with the pasta, which will coat the noodles. If the pasta isn't ready, take the egg pan off the heat so that the yolk doesn't cook.

Once the egg is fried to your liking, and the pasta is ready (or if you're using cold pasta), add the noodles to the egg pan and toss them together over medium heat until everything is incorporated. If you're going minimalist, all you have to do at this point is season to taste and dinner's ready.

Extra ingredients

To make your spaghetti and egg masterpiece a little extra, you can add any number of elements, including coarse breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, fresh herbs, capers, anchovies, and lemon juice.

One of the most satisfying ways to incorporate some of these elements is to make pangratatto, which are Italian crispy flavored breadcrumbs. All you need to do is toast your breadcrumbs in oil using a small sauté pan and add some combination of herbs (oregano and parsley are classic), lemon zest, and parmesan cheese; red pepper flakes are also nice for a little kick. When you are mixing together your eggs and pasta, add a generous dash of your pangratatto right at the end for a savory crunch. Extra pangratatto is also nice to have around for sprinkling on other dishes, like an heirloom tomato salad.

If you want to incorporate capers, anchovies, or even sundried tomatoes, heat them in the pan with the garlic when you fry the egg. Anything liquid, such as lemon juice, white wine, or vinegar, can be added when you mix the egg and pasta together. Once you have the technique down for making pasta with fried eggs, you'll always have a secret weapon meal in your back pocket for whenever the fridge is looking bare, and you'll never waste leftover pasta again.