Monday, September 19, 2011

Walnut-Breadcrumb Pasta with a Soft Egg and Chive & Cheese Breadsticks

Recipe modified by You Want Me to Cook? – March 14, 2011
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For a commentary-free and printer-friendly version of the Walnut-Breadcrumb Pasta with a Soft Egg recipe ONLY, please click here.
For a commentary-free and printer-friendly version of the Chive and Cheese Breadsticks recipe ONLY, please click here.

Walnut-Breadcrumb Pasta with a Soft Egg recipe originally published by Cooking Light – January/February 2011
Chive and Cheese Breadsticks recipe originally published by Simple and Delicious – December/January 2011

I’m writing this post angry today.  I decided to make myself an omelet for breakfast this morning and it sucked.  It made me cranky.

Then I got a headache that will not disappear.  This made me surly.

Now I’m watching the Bears game and it isn’t making it any better.

Okay, focus… I’m going to focus… I promise I won’t be a Debbie Downer and I’ll just get to the recipes.

I love pasta and I enjoy finding recipes that don’t involve the traditional pasta sauce.  I remember the first time I took a chance on pesto and fell in love, so when I saw the recipe for the Walnut-Breadcrumb Pasta in Cooking Light, I was ready to take a chance.  Also, I was intrigued by the soft boiled egg.  I’ve got the technique for hard boiled down and this presents a new challenge.

I decided that I wanted to have savory bread with this dish.  Regular bread and butter just didn’t seem like they would cut it.  Luckily I didn’t have to look too hard – the recipe for the Chive and Cheese Breadsticks was in the next magazine that I read.  My meal was complete.

© You Want Me to Cook?
Walnut-Breadcrumb Pasta with a Soft Egg
and Chive & Cheese Breadsticks
My pasta looks okay.  I’m a little disappointed in the pasta color though.  I used regular pasta in this case, so it shouldn’t be as brown as it is.  The goat cheese on top looks messy… like it doesn’t belong there.

As for the breadstick, this was one of the prettiest ones in the bunch.  Nicely browned and it held the twist.  However, if I’m being honest, I have to admit that not all of them looked like this.  In fact, not many of them looked like this.

© Cooking Light
The picture by Cooking Light looks so refreshing and neat.  Their pasta seems to have retained its original color.  I was refreshed to see that my eggs looked as “pretty” as their eggs did. 

© Simple and Delicious
Yeah, not even close.  I think part of the issue was the type of frozen bread dough that I used.  Of course, when I look really closely at this picture, they aren’t all that pretty either.  The cheese and chives kept the breadsticks from staying twisted.  Still, they look much better than mine.

for more details about what my ratings mean, go to Gretchen’s Rating System

MessYIKES – After the whole Reunion Casserole with Asiago Tater Tots debacle I was hoping for a slightly less messy dish to make.  Unfortunately that did not happen.  Just like before, the main dish wasn’t the worst of the mess… it was the doggone Chive and Cheese Breadsticks that made me cry.  There was tons of equipment and the mess was ridiculous.

Start-to-Finish Time: A LITTLE OVER AN HOUR AND A HALF – the nice thing about this dish is that the pasta dish is made while the breadsticks bake, but it still will take you over an hour and a half to finish both.

Prep Work: SLIGHT BLOOD LOSS – All you have to prepare is the parsley.  Of course, chopping parsley SUCKS, so you can be thankful that’s all you have to do.

Ease of Recipe: MORE THAN I BARGAINED FOR – I had never made soft boiled eggs, so that was a little scary for me.  Of course, I didn’t have any major issues, so that wasn’t the worst of it.  The worst of it was making the breadsticks.  Good God!!!  I couldn’t make my bread dough do what it said and then there was a gigantic mess!  I was frustrated and pretty close to dumping the breadsticks in the trash.

OverallNOT BAD – I was pleased with the soft egg, but the pasta was a little dry and yielded not-so-yummy leftovers.  The breadsticks were good, but messy to make and eat.

Recipe Information:
I am not a doctor or dietician.  I make my nutritional assessments with the aid of Spark Recipes.  I run the original recipe and my altered recipe through their calorie counter and then compute the differences I find.  My numbers are to be used as a guideline.  Anyone who is under dietary medical supervision should follow the advice of their medical professional if their opinion differs from mine.  PLEASE!

Walnut-Breadcrumb Pasta with a Soft Egg
Servings: 4
Total Time: 44 minutes

The servings are accurate.  Obviously, you’re only cooking 4 eggs, so that’s one egg per serving and I’m not sure I’d eat the pasta without the eggs.  You do get a fairly large amount of pasta with a serving.  Pair the dish with a breadstick (like I did) and maybe a small soup/salad and you will have a filling meal.

The total time given was pretty accurate.  In fact, this was one of the only recipes I’ve finished ahead of schedule.  They didn’t have any breakdown of prep work, cook time, etc… so that was a little bit disappointing, but since I finished on time, I wasn’t terribly upset.  Here is the timing of my recipe:
  • Prep Time: 13 minutes
  • Make Pasta: 27 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
Nutritional Information
  • Calories 492
  • Total Fat 23.2g (Saturated Fat 5.3g)
  • Cholesterol 216mg
  • Calcium 80mg
  • Sodium 448mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 53.3g
  • Fiber 3g
  • Protein 19.2g
  • Iron 4.1mg
I was surprised about the level of fat and cholesterol being that the recipe came from Cooking Light.  The carbs seem to be a little on the high side as well, but at least it’s got some fiber in there to balance it out.  I plugged the dish into the Spark Database to check its accuracy and here are the numbers:
  • Calories 470.1
  • Total Fat 25.4g (Saturated Fat 6g)
  • Cholesterol 226.2mg
  • Sodium 607.3mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 40.1g
  • Fiber 3.2g
  • Sugar 1.2g
  • Protein 18.2g
It is almost the same, but the sodium is significantly higher.  It kind of surprised me, since there isn’t a lot in the dish that would have added sodium in it.  I guess the pasta and goat cheese are elevated  more than I thought.  I didn’t alter the ingredients (just technique) so I didn’t have to rerun the recipe again.

Chive and Cheese Breadsticks:
Servings: 16
Prep Time: 15 minutes + rising
Bake Time: 15 minutes

I’m going to assume had my dish turned out correctly, I would have gotten 16 breadsticks.  The timing has what I like to call “the tricky time hide.”  Whenever you see a term like “plus chilling” or “rising” make sure you read the recipe to see how long that actually is.  Sometimes “chill time” can be overnight, or “rising” can be AN HOUR as is this case.  That takes a 30 minute treat and turns it into and hour and a half.  Yes, it isn’t “active time” but if you start dinner at 6:00PM that means you’ll have to wait until after 7:30 to eat, and if you’re trying to make these with another dish… forget it.  Your food will be cold waiting for the breadsticks to be finished.  Here’s my timing for the recipe:
  • Prep Time: 22 minutes
  • Rise Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour and 37 minutes
Nutritional Information (1 breadstick)
  • Calories 137
  • Total Fat 6g (Saturated Fat 3g)
  • Cholesterol 15mg
  • Sodium 253mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 14g
  • Fiber 1g
  • Protein 5g
The numbers aren’t bad, if you can keep it to one breadstick.  I rarely can do that because I’m a bread junkie.  The sodium is slightly high, but manageable.  I plugged the dish into the Spark Database to check its accuracy and here are the numbers:
  • Calories 135.8
  • Total Fat 6.2g (Saturated Fat 3.5g)
  • Cholesterol 15.2mg
  • Sodium 240.4mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 15g
  • Fiber .9g
  • Sugar .1g
  • Protein 4.8g
Almost right on target with the published recipe!  I didn’t alter the ingredients, so I don’t have to rerun the recipe since the numbers will be the same.

Changes denoted by red text
Walnut-Breadcrumb pasta with a Soft Egg
© You Want Me to Cook?
Walnut-Breadcrumb Pasta with a Soft Egg
Ingredients - dairy and pantry
4 large eggs

1 (2-ounce) piece French bread baguette, torn into small pieces

1/4 cup walnuts
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
8 ounces uncooked fresh linguine 

© You Want Me to Cook?
Walnut-Breadcrumb Pasta with a Soft Egg
Ingredients - vegetables and bread
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
1/3 cup (1 1/2 ounces) crumbled goat cheese
6 cups of ice

Chive and Cheese Breadsticks:
© You Want Me to Cook?
Chive and Cheese Breadsticks
1 loaf (1 pound) frozen bread dough, thawed
1/3 cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons minced chives
1 garlic clove, minced
3/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
Cooking Spray

Ingredient Notes:
French Bread Baguette – I had a bunch of frozen French bread baguettes, so I baked my own.  It was quite nice actually.

Olive Oil – This is one of the times you want to use the good stuff.  You’re essentially making a walnut and bread pesto and the oil is going to be what binds it all together.  If you’ve got the “good stuff”, now is the time to use it.

Garlic – to save some time, I used pre-minced (for both dishes).  Yeah, I know it isn’t as good as fresh, but I don’t care.

Linguine – I used regular pasta since that was all I could find at the store, but if I could have found wheat pasta, I would have used it.

Parsley – normally, I use dried herbs, especially when it comes to parsley.  In this case, you need 1/3 cup of the herb chopped, so that’s a pretty significant amount and the parsley is a big part of the dish.  In this case, make sure you use fresh, or you’re going to be disappointed.

Chives – I use freeze-dried chives.  They have the same taste as fresh chives and last much longer.  They don’t retain their crisp texture after they’ve been in sauce.

Ice – You have to plunge the eggs directly into ice water so make sure you have enough to submerge 4 eggs.  For me it was 6 cups of ice.

Cooking Spray – you have to lightly grease the baking dish, and this is the most effective way I know how to do that.

Flour – you have to roll out the bread on a lightly floured surface.  You’ll probably need no more than 2 tablespoons.

Equipment Needed:
© You Want Me to Cook?
Walnut-Breadcrumb Pasta with a Soft Egg
Rolling Pin
Small Bowl
Spoon – Mixing
Small cutting board
Sharp knife
15x10” baking pan
Plastic wrap
Cutting board
Medium Saucepan
© You Want Me to Cook?
Chive and Cheese Breadsticks
Slotted spoon
Medium bowl
Food processor
Large skillet
Large spoon
Large Saucepan
Wooden spoon

Equipment Notes:
Baking Pan – according to (Better Homes and Gardens) metal pans are best used to achieve nicely browned baked goods or for broiling and high temperatures.  If you only have a glass baking dish, you can use it, but you may not achieve that gorgeous brown color as easily.

Ruler – I used a ruler to make sure I had 3” of water in my saucepan to cook my eggs (see my notes below).  Don’t worry if you don’t have a ruler that you use for the kitchen… just make sure the eggs are submerged.

Medium Saucepan – for the record, a medium saucepan doesn’t hold 3” of water.  I used a large saucepan and simply made sure that the eggs were submerged.

Food Processor – you really need a food processor for this since you’re not blending liquids.  You’ll need something  bigger than a mini-chop too since you’ve got ¼ cup of walnuts on top of 2 ounces of bread.

(1)  Start Breadsticks:
(a)  On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 12-in. square.

I used a frozen French baguette and I’m thinking that it wasn’t the smartest frozen bread to use.  I couldn’t get it to roll out!  I was able to stretch it out long, but I couldn’t get it into a square like the recipe said.  I just stretched it out as much as possible.

(b)  In a small bowl, combine the butter, chives and garlic; spread over dough.

(c)   Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.

(d)  Fold dough in half.  Cut into sixteen 3/4-in.-wide strips. Twist each strip 2-3 times; pinch ends to seal.

As I’m looking at my notes, they said the “cheese fell into one corner.”  I’m guessing that means all of the cheese ended up in the seam of the folded dough because that sentence doesn’t make any sense to me whatsoever.

Then comes the big question: How do you pick up two ends of the breadstick with the filling in the middle without the filling falling out of it.  And then you have to twist it?  Let’s just say I ended up with most of the filling all over my cabinet and I could not figure out how I was supposed to do it, even after I pinched and rolled all of them.

(e)  Place 2 in. apart in a greased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 60 minutes.

The recipe stated that it should take 40 minutes to rise, but it took me about an hour.  That happens a lot with my baking/rising though.  When it said you are supposed to put the breadsticks 2” apart in a single pan, I laughed.  In my notes all I have written is an arrow to that instruction with “Yeah, not gonna work.”

(2)   While the breadsticks rise, start preparations for the pasta and cook the eggs:

(a)  Bring 3 inches of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add eggs to pan; boil 5 1/2 minutes. Drain.

(b)  Plunge eggs into ice water, and let stand for 5 minutes. Drain and peel.

(c)  Place bread in a food processor, process until finely ground.

(d)  Add nuts to bread; pulse until finely ground.

Keep the bread and nuts in the food processor to keep them from drying out.

(3)   Finish and bake the breadsticks:
(a)  Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese.

(b)  Bake at 375°F for 13-15 minutes or until golden brown.

(3)   Finish the pasta dish:
(a)  Start water for pasta to boil.  Prep the ingredients.

(b)  Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil to pan, and swirl to coat.

(c)  Add garlic, and sauté for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.

© You Want Me to Cook?
Walnut-Breadcrumb Pasta with a Soft Egg
Breadcrumb & walnut mixture
(d)  Add breadcrumb mixture, salt, and pepper to pan; sauté for 5 minutes or until toasted, stirring frequently.

While I was taking this picture, the smoke alarm went off.  I guess the moral of the story is… make sure you keep your eye on the pan and don’t overcook it.

(e)  Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain.

(f)  Add pasta to the breadcrumb mixture; toss to combine.

(g)  Sprinkle with parsley and chives; toss to combine.

(h)  Divide pasta mixture evenly among 4 shallow bowls, and top each serving with 1 egg and 1 1/2 tablespoons cheese. Serve immediately with the breadsticks

The Walnut-Breadcrumb Pasta with a Soft Egg was good, but a little dry.  If you decide to give this recipe a try, DO NOT skip the egg.  You’ll need the moisture from the egg to make the dish more like a sauce.  As for the Chive and Cheese Breadsticks, I think the French bread is what pointed this dish in the direction of disaster.  My final dish ended up like monkey bread.  It was okay, but certainly not worth the gigantic mess or time.

I really don’t see any changes I’d have for the past and egg dish (except looking for whole grain or wheat linguine), but I have some suggestions for the Chive and Cheese Breadsticks:
I would use another type of frozen bread in place of the French.
I would cover the bread with a towel instead of plastic wrap.  I’ve had better success with rising my pastry this way.

I was really excited about my soft boiled eggs though.  They turned out great and I had no issues.  I was VERY excited!

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