Be honest. Aren’t there things you wait to do until your significant other leaves the house? Re-arrange the dishwasher so that the plates face the right way? Watch Real Housewives of New York? Feed the dog pieces of bacon because he loves them so much? As much as I love being with my hubby, and I really don’t like it when he has to be somewhere else, there are certain things that just don’t happen when he’s here. Granted, he’s pretty much the most tolerant person ever, so there aren’t many.
However, there is just this one little thing that he won’t have in his presence. Eggs for dinner. No poached with toast, no scrambled with sausage, no fried on top of anything. No. Eggs. For. Dinner. Which is fine, I get it, but we have this one little problem: I would put an egg on top of anything and call it a meal. I haven’t always been this way, and I couldn’t tell you when it started. Maybe college? Maybe when I lived on my own after college? I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that now I’m addicted and I can’t stop. I try to rein it in most of the time, but when the cat’s away the mice will play… with eggs.
So I’ve been saving this recipe for a while, and waiting for the hubs to have a late meeting or go out for drinks after work or something. The perfect opportunity came in the form of softball practice. (Yes, that’s right, softball season is starting in Chicago. Which means there will be plenty of husband-less time this summer for me to stay at home and swill eggs to my heart’s content.) Of course, the recipe originally jumped out at me because it calls for putting a fried egg on top. But upon further reading, my eyes widened as I ran down the ingredient list… all of my favorite things! Soba! Pork products! Asparagus! Cheese! Beautiful.
For those of you who have never had soba before, and think it sounds and looks a little weird, don’t be afraid. Soba are Japanese noodles made from buckwheat flour, which gives them a slight purplish-brown color when cooked. Their flavor is a little bit nuttier and richer than your ordinary pasta noodle, and they have a satisfying, tender bite when you cook them correctly. They cook incredibly fast, which makes them really convenient for a quick meal- just be careful not to overcook them or they turn into a hot mess (literally). If you don’t have any and can’t find any in your store, you can use regular pasta for this dish and it will be just fine. But if you’ve never had soba before, try it, I really think you’ll like it. This is actually a great way to try it out, because all of the other ingredients are pretty familiar and beloved. Prosciutto makes an appearance again (I know, y’all are going to have to do some kind of prosciutto intervention on me, it’s bad), as does some awesome spring asparagus, and my old pal garlic. And of course, topped with a barely set, crispy on the edges, salty fried egg. Of course, you don’t have to put an egg on top if you’re in the same no-breakfast-for-dinner camp as my husband. It would still be pretty darn good.
Egg-Topped Soba Noodles with Asparagus and Prosciutto
adapted from Bon Appetit
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
6 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
3 oz, (1/4 lb) thinly sliced prosciutto, cut crosswise into strips
1 9.5-ounce package thin soba noodles
1 pound asparagus, ends trimmed, cut on sharp diagonal into 1/8-inch-thick slices
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus additional cheese shavings
Heat 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic; stir 30 seconds. Add prosciutto strips; cook until slightly crisp. Remove from heat. Set aside.
Cook soba noodles in large pot of boiling salted water 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Add sliced asparagus to pot; cook until noodles are cooked through and asparagus is just tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain noodles and asparagus, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid. (VERY IMPORTANT: The Soba noodles I bought were thin, and the package instructions said to only cook them for 3 minutes. If you buy thicker noodles, cook them a little longer before adding in the asparagus. They cook very quickly and you don’t want to overcook them. When in doubt, pull one out and test it. It would have the bite of al dente pasta.)
Toss drained noodles and asparagus with prosciutto and garlic mixture. If it seems too dry, add a little of the reserved cooking liquid. Add grated Parmesan cheese and remaining olive oil and toss to coat. Divide into bowls and top with the Parm shavings.
Fry up an egg in a small skillet (or you could use the same skillet you used for the prosciutto and garlic, as I did). Alternatively, you could top this with a poached egg, which I think would also be really good here. Of course, you could always opt to go egg-less, but where’s the fun in that?