giovedì 1 agosto 2013

FINALLY! Spaghetti with zucchini, fried eggs, and marjoram


Zucchini and marjoram make one of the best pairings in the kitchen. Spaghetti with this pair, plus fried eggs, is one of my favorite, I mean FAVORITE, dishes in the whole world. An old Neapolitan recipe, simple but tasty. I go crazy over this dish.

Jeanette had planted the zucchini. (You can read about it here.)  I had planted the marjoram. It remained only to wait for two zucchini. (The recipe calls for two of them.)

The first one had arrived while we were on vacation in Utah. (We had offered it to our neighbor, who took care of our garden in our absence.) Yesterday, July 31st, I finally picked the second and third ones (for us the first and second ones). I practically ran into the kitchen to cook them!


1 lb spaghetti (It has to be spaghetti, no other pasta. I don't know why.  In the olden days I imagine they used vermicelli.*)
½ large onion, chopped
2 zucchini, cut in little cubes
2 or 3 branches of fresh marjoram
2 eggs
extra-virgin olive oil
freshly-grated pecorino

*=In Italy, vermicelli are somewhat thicker than spaghetti, not thinner as in America.


This recipe is very easy — it's just that it requires a little time to cut the zucchini, and a little skill in the proper sautéeing of the cubes.

In a frying pan, heat some oil. Add the onions and cook them till translucent. (No garlic in this recipe.) Add the cubes of zucchini, salt and pepper, and sautée them for 15-20 minutes, until soft and a little caramelized, but not completely browned. You have to control the heat very accurately, stir the cubes often, and add a drizzle of oil if necessary. After 5-7 minutes, lay the marjoram branches on top of the zucchini cubes. (Or, for a stronger flavor, remove the leaves from the branches and mix them with the zucchini.)

Meanwhile, in a little skillet (preferably of cast iron), heat some butter and fry the two eggs sunny side up. It is probable that in the old days the yolks were still runny, so as to thicken the sauce. Nowadays, perhaps it is more conventional to fry the eggs until the yolks are hard, flipping them over if necessary. That is what I did.

When the spaghetti are cooked, strain them and combine the spaghetti, zucchini, and eggs. Stir until the eggs break in little pieces. (Don't stir the egg too vigorously; a few large pieces of egg should remain.)  Serve with pecorino, and Buon Appetito!

Perhaps you can see in the photo that the zucchini are not browned enough. They are adequately tender, but they are not caramelized. See my impatience to make and eat this dish?!
Another incarnation (August 19, 2014).
Foto dal mio orticello (luglio 2016)

3 commenti:

  1. Ricetta strepitosa e tutta Home made.Bravissimo.

  2. Sounds wonderful. Zucchini fresh from the garden is really something completely different from the supermarket variety. The flavor is tremendous. I'm curious about the addition of a fried egg—I would have imagined the egg added beaten and raw and mixed with some pecorino, and allowed to thicken as it mixed with the hot pasta and zucchini. Any thoughts?

    1. You Roman, you! Seriously, the egg/pecorino paste would be a very Roman way of going about it. This dish I had in Naples. And the dear woman who made it made it exactly as I described, with eggs fried separately. I can still visualize the pan on her stove, on a cold burner, the zucchini with the two fried eggs lying on top of it, waiting patiently for the spaghetti to be ready. In the olden days I imagine lard was used instead of butter. I chose butter so as to keep it a vegetarian dish. I don't know what form of marjoram that she used, but because dried herbs are an anathema to me, I used the twigs from my plant. Of course I could have also removed the leaves and used only them. But by keeping the branches intact, you can prevent the leaves from touching the bottom of the pan and burning. And, of course, you can easily remove them, as one would a bouquet garni. Returning to your original point, I have indeed had pasta with a paste of beaten eggs, freshly grated pecorino, and freshly ground black pepper. I love it -- the flavor of Rome!