Food

When in Dinner Doubt, Add an Egg

A Back-to-Basics Dinner Idea

What do you cook when you’re due for a grocery store trip but too pressed for time? To continue our month of dinners that people actually make, we’re excited to feature a delicious idea from reader Karen, who swears by topping parmesan pasta with garlic fried eggs. This three-ingredient recipe will blow your mind without blowing your budget. Here’s how she does it…

fried egg pasta

Recipe: Angel Hair Pasta with Garlic Fried Eggs and Parmesan

You’ll need:

Garlic
Olive Oil
Eggs
Red pepper
Sea salt
Oregano
Angel hair pasta
Parmesan cheese

Boil your angel hair pasta according to instructions. Meanwhile, sauté garlic in olive oil and break in a few eggs. Sprinkle the entire pan with red pepper, sea salt and oregano, and cook the eggs until they’re semi-set. “The spiced olive oil will coat them with garlicky goodness,” says Karen. Remove eggs to a separate plate and then toss your pasta in the pan. Plate up your pasta with an egg on top and then sprinkle liberally with parmesan cheese.

fried egg pasta

Yum! Thank you so much for the idea, Karen!

P.S. More recipes, including sweet potato gnocchi and 20-minute carbonara.

(Photos by Ali Stafford for Cup of Jo. Thanks to Franny Eremin for helping with this series.)

  1. Shaina C says...

    I’ve been eating this (and thinking about it!) all the time! Thank you for the recipe. :)
    the one thing I’ve changed is that because the noodles can be kind of dry after cooking and the egg can tend to be not enough liquid, I stir some butter and garlic salt on the noodles before adding the egg!

  2. Ok, so I’m all about eggs when I’m low on time (and groceries!), but I’ve never thought to pair with pasta! WHY has this not dawned on me sooner? This dish looks so darn delicious, especially topped with parm. Yum. xo

  3. Marie N. says...

    Hi Jo!
    I really wanted to love this and I am going to try it one more time. My initial attempt was a disaster. I failed to recognize that as much as my family loves garlic, this would have been better with less. One or two small to medium cloves crushed or sliced garlic and very lightly browned then removed from the oil.
    I consider myself to be a very experienced home cook with a well developed palate. That being said, for inexperienced cooks and those of us with the occasional lapse in good cooking judgement, you might consider a slightly more detailed ingredient list.
    Thanks Jo.

  4. Trish says...

    THREE ingredient??

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh yes! we don’t count salt, olive oil, etc. that you’d have in the pantry, so the main three ingredients are pasta, eggs and parmesan.

  5. whaaaaat?! Why have I never heard of this?! It sounds amazing!!!

  6. Oh my God! My husband and his family have been eating this for ages and I hadn’t heard of it until I met him. Now I’m a fan! But it’s our guilty pleasure, and we make it once in a while when we don’t know what else to make and it feels like a treat.

  7. Isabel says...

    You can add a fried egg on anything and it will taste better. In Argentina, where I am from, you can request any food item you order in a restaurant “a caballo” (on horseback), and the kitchen will know to top your dish with a fried egg. People do this even on lunch sandwich orders. Lomitos a caballo, a steak sandwich with a fried egg, lettuce, and tomato, are an Argentine classic. The combination of steak, a runny yolk, and fresh bread is heavenly.

    • Marie Nelson says...

      You said it well, Isabel. However, a fried egg with a runny yolk is heavenly on practically anything that I can think of. I plan to try ‘lamitos a caballo’ very soon.

  8. !!!!!!!! I make this ALL. THE. TIME. An egg over pasta is SO GOOD and the parmesan/black pepper combo is *perfecto*.

  9. Scout says...

    I heard of this recipe from the book an everlasting meal. I never finished the book – reading about food made me too hungry and grumpy all the time – but I LOVE this meal!

  10. I just did this the other day. I made a pad thai noodle dish and it was missing…SOMETHING. I added a fried egg and my husband loved it!

  11. Mo says...

    I just ate this for dinner and it was legit the best thing I’ve eaten in weeks. More of this!

    • Mo says...

      My name is Mo and I was coming on to write the exact same comment! Thrilling!

  12. DutchYankee says...

    This is great if you love heart disease and other ailments. Best to drop the eggs and keep it 100% whole food plant based :-)

    • geekdadroo says...

      Sure, if you’re a rabbit or some other non-omnivore. This is great if you love things with taste, for sure! :-)

    • Vivian says...

      Have you ever checked out the lifespan and condition of chickens who are used in the egg industry?
      It is 2018. The information is free and available.
      Let’s step up, take off the blinders, and start saving this planet. We are our own best hope.

  13. Ellen W says...

    I think I am one of the few people who does not love eggs, looking at runny yolks makes me queasy. :)

  14. Sarah says...

    My mouth is watering!

  15. Mary W says...

    I’ll have to try this the next time my husband goes out of town. (Eggs at dinner aren’t his thing.) I’ve recently been using dehydrated garlic. It works really well and a jar lasts for a long time.

    • I love the idea of using dehydrated garlic!
      XO, Cassandra Ann
      @IamCassandraAnn

  16. Laura C. says...

    When in dinner doubt, add an egg –> this is my life every other evening

  17. Danielle says...

    I really love Basta! It’s chickpea based. I started out using it with things that are good with chickpeas (sausage, greens, etc) and now I use it for just about anything. My husband is pretty picky and he likes it and neither of us are gluten free by necessity we just like the added nutrition. You can get it just about everywhere now- even Target!

  18. Nina says...

    Similar to a frugal gourmet recipe I’ve used for years. Boil pasta. As that boils saute minced garlic in 1/4 cup olive oil. Drain pasta. Pour into olive oil and garlic (turn off heat). Crack 2 eggs into this and stir othe heat will cook the eggs to just the perfect creamy consistency. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste.

    • Nicole says...

      Uh..,,yum!!

  19. Lauren says...

    Can anyone recommend an actually delicious gluten free pasta? My husband is newly gluten free and it’s putting a wrench in the dinners I cook for us and our young son (who, no surprise, loves pasta and will always eat it!)…. I’ve tried a few varieties but nothing has been DELICIOUS… thanks in advance!

    • Jenn says...

      Check out the blog http://www.iowagirleats.com She has Celiac and has posted her hits and misses for all things GF, including pasta!

    • Danielle says...

      I really love Basta! It’s chickpea based. I started out using it with things that are good with chickpeas (sausage, greens, etc) and now I use it for just about anything. My husband is pretty picky and he likes it and neither of us are gluten free by necessity we just like the added nutrition. You can get it just about everywhere now- even Target!

    • Ann says...

      Trader Joe’s all the way.

    • Beth says...

      I’m celiac too, and I recommend Schar to everyone. My family doesn’t mind eating it with me! It has the taste and texture of the pasta I remember!

    • I am gluten free too and really love bionature gluten free pasta. Barilla also does a fabulous one if you can find it.

    • haley says...

      Banza is by far the best GF pasta I’ve ever tried. With GF pasta, it’s usually (1) a weird flavor, (2) a weird consistency, and/or (3) expensive. Banza tastes amazing, has the best consistency of any GF pasta I’ve ever used (it actually has the same consistency as regular pasta), and is super affordable. Plus, it’s made with chickpea flour so yay(!) for added protein!

    • Mo says...

      Jovial’s Gluten Free Egg Noodles are my favorite, Ancient Harvest’s Garden Pagodas are a close second.

    • Manini’s ancient grains pasta. It is so good and it’s fresh!!

    • Ivy says...

      Try looking for gluten free pastas made in Italy. Despite the fact that wheat pasta is part of life there, it was also the first country to routinely test for celiac, and as a result, has been handling it in the culinary realm for longer than most of the world. I don’t recall the brand I had last week, but I specifically looked for an Itailan pasta. It did not disappoint.

    • Julia Perriello says...

      Jovial!

    • Sherry McLaughlin says...

      I also am gluten free and Walmart where I live has a great area in their food store of all gluten free foods. That is where I get my bread and the Heartland Pasta in many different shapes of pasta. At times when at Treasure Island I get the Barilla Pasta when I run out and it has a great taste also. And there is a great gluten free cake mix that I used for the Strawberry cake that was posted here a few weeks ago. Made the best cake I ever had……Good luck and I have been gluten free for 40 years now…

    • Midge says...

      Italian if you can find it, but I prefer Tinkiyada white rice spaghetti.

    • Kara says...

      I like the taste of lentil pasta and Trader Joe’s brown rice quinoa spaghetti. I’ve tried a lot and these are big hits with my husband and three year old who are not into whole wheat pasta (obviously we’re not gluten free, I come from a place of wanting to save my refined carbs for pastries and baguettes!).

    • Naomi says...

      Garofalo is my favorite brand. Even my gluten gobbling husband prefers it to the pasta we used to eat. It’s made in Italy so can sometimes be a little harder to track down but so worth it!

    • We’re big fans of Jovial Foods gluten free pasta. It’s from Italy and is brown-rice flour and water. Delicious every time and the consistency is terrific. My website, glutenfreemollied.com has lots of dinnertime options that are entirely gluten free and safe for those with celiac disease (as I do). Hope this helps!

    • Leslie says...

      My favorite is Aldi’s gluten free pasta. It is made with quinoa and brown rice. Of all the gluten-free pastas it tastes the most authentic. The downside is that it tends to fall apart easily if you cook it too long, so I always make it a little al dente.

    • Jacki says...

      Jovial Gluten Free Pasta
      Bionaturae Gluten Free Pasta

    • witloof says...

      I love Explore Asian Mung Bean Edamame Fettuccini and Andean Dream Quinoa Pasta. Both of those are good enough for me to happily skip the Barilla.

  20. J says...

    Would love to see some low carb/low sugar recipes for those of us who don’t/can’t eat grain or sugar and need to keep a low carb kitchen!

    • Amy says...

      I’m betting spiralized zucchini would be really nice in place of the pasta.

  21. Sally says...

    YAS.
    This sounds damn close to perfect. Pasta – great! Garlic – great! Fried egg – great! Cheese – great!

    I’m weekdays-only vegan and this sort of recipe is the perfect “easy on the stomach” meal for the weekend!

  22. Emma says...

    ‘Put an egg on it’ – much more widely applicable than ‘bird.’ But I count more than three ingredients!

    • Char says...

      Three… eight…
      Tomato tomato, right? Math is hard. 😂😂

  23. Jennie says...

    Why the poached egg in the photo when the recipe calls for fried?.

    • Charity says...

      Looks like a sunny-side-up made with a super fresh egg (very tightly clinging white) to me.

    • Sasha L says...

      Just to see if you’d notice Jennie 😂
      A+

  24. Laura says...

    Where was this last week when I ended up making mock-shuka (I just made that up) for dinner by poaching eggs in jarred pasta sauce and putting it over spaghetti?? It was OK, but this looks way tastier!

  25. Nicola says...

    I often throw a fried egg on top of whatever leftovers I have, and call it dinner. Almost anything will benefit from adding a fried egg: curries, pasta, roast veggies, rice, ramen noodles….

    I will also happily debate the situations in which a crispy, lacy-edged fried egg is appropriate rather than a soft, smooth-edged one. Call me a food nerd.

    • Kate says...

      The only thing I’ve found that is definitely NOT improved by putting an egg on it is cauliflower rice :(

    • Sasha L says...

      With back yard hens, we usually have an abundance of eggs so we put a fried egg on rice and beans, on every kind of pasta, on chilaquiles, stir scrambled eggs into fried potatoes and stuff into burritos, top enchiladas, cook eggs in spicy Indian tomato sauce, crack eggs on pizza, toad in a hole toast, English muffin egg sandwich. And bread pudding is always in our kitchen. We joke about the restaurant we will open one day, called Scrambled, or Hen House or Egg On It, where everything on the entire menu will have an egg on it, or in it, and hens will roam free in the back yard. It’s one of my more realistic day dreams.

  26. Emma says...

    Full disclosure, I’m Italian… but pasta is my go-to… sad, sick, no food in the house, just want a satisfying meal= pasta. My personal favorite is just spaghetti w/ parm and pepper… but also good w/ red pepper flakes, or whisking an egg in when the noodles are still hot to make a creamy sauce.

    • talia says...

      I’m Italian too and this is my go to as well! So good!

    • Laura C. says...

      Pasta – garlic – olive oil – red pepper flakes? The best thing I learned in Italy!

  27. Carrie says...

    This looks amazing! More so-simple-why-didn’t-I-think-of-it recipes please!

  28. Peg Serena says...

    All of these things my little kids will eat separately, so I’m going to give it a go. Broccoli on the side. Thanks!

  29. Amanda says...

    I have eggs! I have pasta! I have garlic! I have cheese! I HAVE DINNER!!!

  30. Sherry McLaughlin says...

    What a fabulous dish to make and that is dinner tonight for me, Thank you for sharing it and please have more…….

  31. Kate says...

    I love to throw a crispy, runny, fried egg on top of leftovers the third time I eat them to make them taste like I haven’t already been eating the same meal for days.
    But I love this idea!!

  32. Nicola says...

    Love this! My mom used to make spaghetti noodles sautéed in olive oil and garlic. She’d add a bit of finely chopped parsley at the end, plus salt and pepper—that was it. I told her recently how I remember this dish being so delicious and satisfying. She said, “Oh, that’s what I made when there was nothing in the house and I had to feed a family of six.”
    Peasant food/rent week food/empty pantry food for the win!

    • Carrie says...

      Somehow those meals always end of being the best kind!

    • Lauren E. says...

      Our version of this was “breakfast for dinner.” It was SUCH a treat but now I realize it was a last minute type of meal for my parents.

    • Nicola says...

      Yes, there are so many meals that I loved, that I now realize were the result of a) no food in the fridge because we were due to go shopping, or b) Mom making something quick because she ran out of time, or c) Trying to stretch ingredients to feed more people. Only now do I realize what a genius my mom was in the kitchen!

  33. this. sounds. fantastic. i’m newly married and always looking for new recipes to try (especially while not wanting to go over the top). thank you for sharing; can’t wait to try!

  34. Meghan says...

    Love these! Hoping for some different meals that include dairy free/gluten free options!

    • Nicola says...

      I’m GF (and often DF for my hubby) and I would make this with GF pasta, and instead of cheese, do GF breadcrumbs: save stale bread ends, then blitz them in a coffee grinder until they’re in small, grainy pieces. Toast these crumbs in a pan until golden with whatever dried herbs you have (garlic powder, thyme, oregano), pepper and lots of salt. Toss into your pasta.

    • Julie says...

      I do this about once a week during the summer with homemade zoodles! I just use a cheap spiralizer for the zucchini.

    • Ellen McAree says...

      For dairy/gluten free, I often use thin bean noodles (check the Asian foods aisle) and Parmigiano Reggiano, which is made from sheep milk (if you’re able to eat that). Very enjoyable.

    • Sophia F. says...

      We are neither dairy-free nor GF in our house but have been making this: https://cookieandkate.com/2018/masala-lentil-salad-with-cumin-roasted-carrots/ at least once a week this summer, using arugula as the green and Trader Joe’s precooked lentils (great lazy secret!) for the lentils. Super easy, can roast the carrots whenever, and approved by my 2- and 4-year-olds. It’s nice to find a delicious DF/GF/vegetarian/whatever recipe that was written that way and tastes complete, rather than ‘just leave out the cheese,’ etc.

  35. Christina says...

    I LOVE this series. Thanks for a fantastic recipe idea!

  36. Erin says...

    YUM! Can’t wait to try this. My go-to easy pasta involves noodles with parmesan, sometimes other bits of random cheese, and toasted walnuts.

  37. Kacy says...

    This looks incredible. I have all these ingredients and may have to make this for dinner tonight!

  38. J. says...

    A version of this has been my go-to home-alone meal for years!

    I also found another one recently thanks to Food 52 – “Sue Kreitzman’s Lemon Butter Angel Hair Pasta.” I use any pasta, not just angel hair. You just melt butter, sautee some dried pasta for a few seconds, add chicken stock/broth and pepper and finish with a squeeze of lemon juice. So simple and good!

  39. Sasha L says...

    I love this! Thank you.

    We make so many variations of this meal, 1. pasta with Costco pesto, topped with a crispy fried egg and panko bread crumbs fried in olive oil, 2. pasta with pesto made with parsley and basil, walnuts and a spoon of tomato paste, topped with egg, 3. garlic fried in olive oil with lemon squeezed in, poured over pasta, topped with egg, finally, 4. pasta coated with cream and parmesan, topped with cherry tomatoes and green onions and garlic sauteed in butter, topped with egg and panko crispies.

    I could eat some version of this dish every. single. night.

    • Syd says...

      Yes to the panko! Also great with rapini.

    • Sarah says...

      Panko crispies!? My brain just exploded with possibility!

  40. ashley says...

    Pasta + fried egg is the best. I eat it before big races! It’s gentle on the stomach and easy to digest. Carb-load city!