I will defend the practice of eating cold leftovers for breakfast until my dying day (and maybe beyond the grave—if that ends up being my legacy, I’m cool with it).
And in the hierarchy of leftovers destined for next-day breakfast, my love for cold pasta tops them all. This is a fact as true and simple as the earth orbiting around the sun or Jon Stewart being incisively entertaining.
However, I’m not opposed to a bowl of fresh, hot pasta for breakfast in the least, and I’m thrilled to see that restaurants around the country are starting to include pasta options on their breakfast and brunch menus.
Hey, breakfast pizza has been around for quite some time, so it only makes sense to expand the options of Italian carb classics.
The grandmother of the trend is, of course, Prune, which has always featured carbonara for brunch because it’s “the Italian way to eat bacon and eggs.”
(It’s also the closest iteration to my carbonara recipe that I’ve tasted in a restaurant, which is no small feat.)
Little Goat Diner in Chicago doesn’t do carbonara, but they also know the way to my heart by adding clams and crab to their breakfast pasta. I know, I know, super divisive, but it’s a brothy bowl, so it’s almost like you’re having a warm, comforting soup.
Am I not selling this? Breakfast soup? Well, The Little Goat has an all-day, all-night menu, so it also works for lunch and dinner if you want to try it first at a more “appropriate” time of day.
And Los Angeles’ iconic Blu Jam Cafe does “Kamil’s Breakfast,” an eggy take on mac and cheese with cheddar, bacon, and ham, as well as a version of carbonara with peas and pesto.
But enough about restaurants—breakfast pasta is a meal you can, and should, be making at home.
I’ve been stirring up a quick, comforting one-pot skillet of spaghetti for breakfast over the past few months whenever I get the craving, and it’s high time we all get in on the recipe.
This isn’t carbonara, because there’s cream involved. (As Red from Orange is the New Black so succinctly puts it, cream in carbonara is vulgar.)
This pasta is a mash-up of things that are always in my fridge and that frequently make it into my breakfasts anyway.
There’s spinach sautéed with garlic and folded into quickly scrambled eggs, half and half for that crucial wake-up cup of coffee, and peas because if there aren’t peas in my freezer, something is terribly wrong and you should notify the authorities.
For us savory breakfast lovers, this breakfast pasta hits all the right buttons. It might take a little longer to make than toasting a few slices of bread or housing a KIND bar, but some days you really deserve a bit more for the first meal of the day.
Who knows? You might want it again for lunch.
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 bunch spinach (about 3 ounces), well-rinsed and torn into bite-sized pieces, or about half a 5-ounce container/bag of baby spinach
- kosher salt
- 2 1/4 cups chicken broth or water, plus more as needed
- 4 ounces (113 grams) spaghetti
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/4 cup half and half
- 2 large handfuls frozen peas (about 1/2 cup)
- freshly ground black pepper (optional)
- grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
- Heat the olive oil in a large (10-inch) skillet over medium heat.
- Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for about a minute, to let the garlic start to soften and release its aromas.
- Add the spinach in handfuls, stirring until wilted to make room for the next handful.
- Stir in a generous pinch of salt, then pour in the broth. Cover and bring to a simmer.
- Uncover and add the spaghetti, fanning the pasta strands out in the skillet. Let them rest and soften in the broth, then use tongs to push and bend the strands until they're all submerged. Be patient and work them in; it will happen, I promise!
- Simmer, tossing the pasta occasionally with the tongs to make sure it doesn't clump up, for about 7-8 minutes until the spaghetti is just shy of al dente.
- If the pasta is absorbing liquid too quickly before it's done, add another 2 tablespoons at a time as needed.
- While the pasta cooks, whisk the egg yolks and half and half together in a small bowl with another generous pinch of salt.
- When the pasta is just about al dente and has absorbed most of the liquid, pour in the eggs and half and half, and add the peas. Stir and cook until the peas are warmed through.
- Divide the pasta between two bowls and top with black pepper and/or Parmesan, if desired. Eat immediately.