Simple Provisions

Food does not need to be fancy to be celebrated

Asparagus Pasta with Poached Egg

I’ve been thinking about cooking a lot lately. Not the cooking I do for the blog, or the cooking I do for guests, but the everyday cooking that is more chore than pleasure. This year the well-understood rhythm of my life with my husband changed completely with the birth of our baby girl. The balance of the household shifted and that change has extended into the kitchen. Weeknight cooking, once an equally shared task, has now fallen mostly to me.

Some days I’m full of my own useful advice and can whip up a nutritious and tasty meal for us all without too much fuss. But other days 3pm rolls around and it feels like I’ve never cooked dinner before, my mind blank and slightly panicked at the thought of what will happen between 5 and 7.30pm when the kitchen is open for business.

I’m a food blogger, I love food, I read recipe books in bed and seek out new ideas in magazines and online constantly. If I have this stricken feeling about cooking for my family on a regular basis, then I imagine others have it too.

Asparagus Pasta with Poached Egg

In fact I know at least one friend does. I received a Facebook message last week suggesting this cookbook title: “There is More Than Pasta; A Tired Mamas Cookbook”. And I know what she means, pasta is my fallback, my light in an otherwise darkened pantry. Pasta is a) easy to cook and b) can be adjusted seasonally to provide interest without too much effort, it’s basically the holy grail of weeknight cooking. Because of this ease, it can get over relied on and soon pasta is being dished up every night, which isn’t ideal.

This blog has always celebrated simple food, aiming to provide ideas for everyday cooking that result in families sitting around tables eating nutritious, delicious, home cooked meals made from scratch. Well this year my efforts have been tested in my own kitchen and I’ve started thinking about weeknight cooking slightly differently.

Like the pasta formula, I’m wondering what other dishes are a) easy and b) can be adjusted seasonally to make the most of fresh produce for taste and economy. I’ve read that most Australian households have 5 meals or fewer in their cooking repertoire, which sounds a little dull. Having a roster of simple meals that move with the seasons would surely be more interesting.

What meals are in your weekly rotation? Do you change it up seasonally? Are you familiar with the 3pm panic attack of “what am I going to cook for dinner?!” I’d love to know what your go-to meals are!

Here’s one of my favourite pasta recipes for Spring. By adding a poached egg, I convince myself that it’s more nutritious. It’s certainly tasty.

Asparagus Pasta with Poached Egg

Asparagus Pasta with Poached Egg

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 350g linguini or spaghetti
  • 1 bunch of asparagus (about 200g), peeled into strips using a vegetable peeler
  • 4 fresh eggs
  • 85g butter
  • 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper
  • Parmesan for grating over the top

Method

Cook pasta according to packet instructions and add asparagus strips one minute before the end of the cooking time. Reserve half a cup of pasta water and then drain the pasta and asparagus.

While pasta is cooking, poach eggs (need help with poaching? This video helped me). Set aside in a bowl of ice water and refresh them in the boiling water you cooked them in when you’re ready to serve.

Melt butter in a pan and add the juice of 1/2 the lemon. Pour butter mixture over pasta and asparagus, stir through to coat everything, using some pasta water to help loosen everything up.

Serve the pasta on a big plate, family style, with eggs on top, a squeeze of fresh lemon, salt and pepper and a shower of parmesan.

47 thoughts on “Asparagus Pasta with Poached Egg

  1. Saskia (1=2) says:

    Sunshine in a bowl! Love it. I’ve never thought to add a poached egg to pasta – great idea! I can *totally* relate to that stricken feeling about cooking for the family regularly. I would totally buy your friend’s conceptual cookbook – I reckon there would be a huge market for it. It’s nearly 3pm now and although my usual quick, brain-dead go-to is tuna pasta or baked eggs, tonight I’m thinking fish n’ chips…

    1. Amelia says:

      After I pressed “publish” I thought “Friday afternoon is a stupid time to ask this question – it’s take away night!”. Fish and chips sounds good to me. But you can’t fool me Saskia, I know your fridge is full of amazing planned overs that make dinner time seem effortless!

  2. awesome post enjoyed reading have a delicious healthy life and evening

  3. Emily Rogers says:

    I hear you! I write a weekly meal plan for my local fruit & veg co-op (Local Organics, based in East Brunswick). The goal is to help people continue to eat seasonal, locally grown food by providing simple, nutritious meals that families can prepare quickly. It’s a lot harder than it sounds!! Many people give up on local, seasonal eating because it doesn’t fit their meat and three veg or “5 meals on rotation’ system of eating. You are right that the trick is to find simple meals that can be adjusted to suit the seasons. I have my favourite fallbacks and they include seasonal reworks of favourites like frittata, vegetable patties, home made pizza, roast veg + a grain, pasta and something, veggie shepherd’s pie (AKA leftovers pie), something curry, lentils and veg (followed the next night by lentil & veg tacos), hearty soups like minestrone, slow cooked something with rice and of course the classic Spag Bol – a dish that rises above the seasons and makes everyone happy, all year round. After nearly a year of doing these weekly meal plans, I’m hoping I can just hit re-start in a few months and whip up the exact same meals next year 😉

    1. Amelia says:

      Emily, your meal plans are inspirational! For everyone else, here’s the link: http://www.localorg.com.au/meal-plans. I love your lentil and veg taco idea, taco any leftovers is a great strategy!

  4. Cat Smith says:

    Thanks for the post! I am inspired to cook tonight! http://alonewithacamera.com/

    1. Amelia says:

      I hope you enjoy it Cat

  5. This ASPARAGUS PASTA really looks very cool, less fat and more than health.

  6. M-R says:

    This is THE way to eat pasta, you clever thing, Amelia – simple and healthy. I’m currently going through agonies wondering if I should try the low-carb diet, which would put it out of my reach: so I think I’l eat it tomorrow and decide on the weekend. [grin]

    1. Amelia says:

      That’s an excellent strategy M-R. I’m employing similar thinking regarding the cake habit I’ve developed this year to propel me through the first year of motherhood. I know the cake needs to stop, but I’ll decide when later…

  7. mmmm that just made me hungry! I will be trying this out this weekend, hopefully my tricky eater 2yr old will give it a go too

    1. Amelia says:

      I hope they like it! I’ve tried asparagus spears with chopped boiled egg with my 10-month old. She really enjoyed throwing the spears onto the floor :-/

  8. YES, YES, YES! I can completely relate to this 3 o’clock dilemma… and funnily enough it was most prevalent when my boys were in their baby/toddler years as well. It does get easier Amelia… though it still rears it’s ugly head from time to time, when inspiration just isn’t forthcoming throughout the day and around comes 6pm and you just have to find something… well, ANYTHING!… to pull out of the pantry, fridge or freezer that will provide at least some kind of nutritional benefit to your loved ones! and yep, as a food blogger I feel incredibly pathetic each time it happens! With my boys now eating curries, I find that to be a great mid-week meal… using some of the great quality curry pastes out there (particularly love the Charmaine Solomon ones)… a side of rice and a few pappadums and we’re set! 🙂

    1. Amelia says:

      Curry dropped out of my repertoire as it was one of the last things I ate before my morning sickness kicked in and somehow 16 weeks of feeling crap tarnished that last meal! But it’s due for a comeback. I haven’t tried Charmaine Solomon pastes, I’ll look out for them, thanks Margot.

  9. mafaldacooks says:

    Lovely idea for pasta and super easy 🙂 I leave alone so I can’t say that I experience the panic but I grew up having in the fridge soup ready to heat and eat. For this now that I’m on my own I make my own soup and keep it for some weekly dinners, usually it doesnt last all week but well 🙂 also there a lot of healthy sandwich recipes that can be fun for really lazy days 🙂 like mozarella and tomato paninis can be cool when you make them at home 🙂 also you can check Nigella Lawson’s Express recipes book I think you would enjoy it 🙂

    1. Amelia says:

      I agree! Soup is a fantastic standby, and freezes well too. I do love Nigella, but haven’t flipped through her Express recipes, I’ll take a look, thanks for the recommendation.

  10. Jane says:

    Thank you so much for this gorgeous recipe !! Just finished dinner and loved it… I would never have thought of using the peeler for the asparagus and the poached eggs, though I used my own technique, really finished it beautifully .
    Love your recipes and your gentle stories
    Jane 🙂

    1. Amelia says:

      Jane! I’m so pleased you made it and liked it! Very happy to have provided inspiration for a night.

  11. laurasmess says:

    What a gorgeous dish. I often combine a poached egg with asparagus and toast but I’ve never thought to have it with pasta. Quick and easy meals are definitely a godsend on busy days. I can definitely understand how your perspective would have changed after having your little one. Thanks for sharing this gorgeous dish. I’ll try it very soon, after work, whilst relaxing on the couch! xx

    1. Amelia says:

      Relaxing on the couch while eating pasta is probably up there with my all-time favourite things to do in this world. Enjoy Laura.

  12. This recipe looks yummy – I imagine the poached egg adds a nice sauciness to this dish 🙂

    Know that you’re not alone in your dinner struggles. I love food as well and was actually a professional in the field for 3 years before moving on to other interests. I still have nights when I fire up the mac n’ cheese (albeit the organic, GF kind) for my 5 year old and have a bowl of cereal and toast myself. Progress not perfection my friend ❤

    1. Amelia says:

      Exactly Meredith, the yolks provide a lovely rich sauce that goes perfectly with the bright asparagus and lemon. I like your progress not perfection mantra, I shall adopt it when I’m eating my daughter’s leftovers and calling it dinner!

  13. Valarie says:

    Reblogged this on Yonge & Egg and commented:
    Cooking on a daily basis can become overwhelming and it’s good to know that I’m not the only one who occasionally thinks, “Oh, s**t.” Good thing this confession is accompanied by what looks to be quite a delicious dish!

  14. annmahnet says:

    I’m so fascinated by what people cook on ordinary weeknights that I started a whole series on my blog about this very topic (as you know, from your lovely guest post)! My weekly rotation includes one big dish that I make during the weekend, followed by soup or stew that I pull from the freezer. Grilled cheese, frozen tamales with canned black beans, and Boca burgers also make regular appearances. This week, however, I surprised myself by cooking TWICE: one night I made broccoli pasta, the second night vegetable tadka dal and rice. Maybe it was a fluke, or maybe life with baby is getting easier! Hang in there, Amelia!

    P.S. I find on-the-fly meals much easier with summer produce — half the stuff doesn’t even need cooking. This Michael Ruhlman recipe for pasta with tomatoes is easy and spectacular: http://food52.com/recipes/30535-michael-ruhlman-s-pasta-with-tomato-water-basil-and-garlic

    1. Amelia says:

      I think I’ll have to adopt the weekend cooking strategy next year when I go back to work Ann, my freezer will be my friend. I’ve also just planted a bunch of lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber and corn, so hopefully my garden will make summer salads easier, because you’re right, no cooking required! I’ve saved that pasta recipe, which looks amazing, to try when my tomato plants get going.

      Here’s the link to your Tuesday Night Dinner series for everyone else: http://annmah.net/category/tuesday-dinner/

  15. margaret21 says:

    I don’t write a cooking blog, but I do know that feeling of making the effort for guests whilst going along familiar tramlines on ‘ordinary’ days. So last year, I resolved that I would make a completely new-to-me dish at least once a week. So far, I’ve stuck to it. Between food blogs like yours, and articles in the press from the likes of Yotam Ottolenghi, it’s not hard, and life has been the better for it.

    1. Amelia says:

      That’s a great idea Margaret, what a good way to discover new favourites.

  16. Yingzi says:

    Sometimes the simplicity is the best! I love this recipe!

    1. Amelia says:

      Couldn’t agree more!

  17. Kayt says:

    I too have been making a variation on this, adding broad beans and sno peas, which are in abundance in the garden at the moment, to the asparagus, For my carnivore partner I add crispy pancetta and for me the vego, toasted almonds or dukka which add a lovely textural contrast to the silky egg yolk and butter. Quite delicious and all in the time it takes to cook the pasta!

    1. Amelia says:

      I hadn’t thought to add broad beans Kayt, I’ll give that a try as our broad bean plant is bending with the weight of its bounty at the moment. Thanks for the idea!

  18. What a delicious recipe to come up with! pasta is my life saver too, and can even be enjoyed with garlic, olive oil and a fried egg on top. Delicious!

    1. Amelia says:

      Fried egg on anything = dinner. Good motto I think.

  19. Amelia, this looks so very delicious. I know the 3pm dinner panic all too well even though there is only the two of us to feed. One of my very favourite go-to dishes is actually a pasta dish from this very blog! The Tuna and Lemon Orecchiette – easy and quick to whip up and always plenty of leftovers. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve made this so thank you very much!

    1. Amelia says:

      I’m *so* pleased that one of your regulars is a recipe I did, and one from so far back too. Thank you for telling me, you’ve made my day!

  20. Anita Menon says:

    Beautiful recipe and so simple. Think I will make this. The pics are beautiful

    1. Amelia says:

      Thanks Anita, I hope you enjoy it.

  21. Feast Wisely says:

    Looks delicious, I had a similiar dish out at the weekend – and that had the addition of truffle oil…

  22. JPei says:

    This looks reaaaally good and healthy!

    http://itsjpei.wordpress.com/

  23. Tanya says:

    This looks so delicious. I love to toss whatever veg I have in a pan with some butter and garlic and cook till lightly browned before tossing with capellini and parmesan. As for non-pasta standbys, I find quick curries with rice are infinitely adaptable and pretty nutritious.

  24. I forgot if I commented here or not but If I have, I am back because I love this recipe, we are making it tomorrow!! Bec x

  25. It looks sooo tasty!!! I am going to try this!

  26. Jessica Kim says:

    Stunning. Brilliant! I’m so glad to have found your blog. Looking forward to reading and cooking more. 😉

    Jess

  27. Puree says:

    The spaghetti looks perfectly cooked!

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