italian breakfast

Need it, love it, gotta have it – one of life’s simple pleasures – pancetta!  My Italian ancestors really knew what they were doing when they came up with this mauve and cream pinwheel of porky pleasure.   And this recipe is a prime example of the old adage – a little goes a long way.  Only a small amount is necessary to bring a robust and sophisticated bacon flavor to any dish it waltzes its way onto.  No ingenious meatless substitute could bring me to my knees like this.  In fact, it’s one of the reasons I maintain my omnivorous status – I just couldn’t picture a life without it.

Today’s dish is straight out of a Williams-Sonoma breakfast cookbook.  It’s an Italian twist on a classic American breakfast of bacon, eggs, and toast.  In this recipe, you roast slender green asparagus spears until just fork tender, sprinkle with a toasted pancettta-bread crumb mixture, and top with a fried egg.  Pierce the delicate membrane of the yolk, allow it to ooze every which way, and you have the perfect accompanying sauce.  While the pancetta is not the star of this dish, its subtle essence is most definitively the tie that binds.  Perhaps the best part of this breakfast is you walk away feeling as if you ate something a little bit naughty, but without a stomach full of bricks.  It’s a total conundrum – rich in flavor, but light in the tummy.  The book recommends serving with a side of lightly oiled toasts, but I don’t think that’s necessary.  I’ve increased the amount of asparagus to make the dish healthier, plentiful, and filling on its own.  Bon appetit!

Fried Eggs with Asparagus, Pancetta, and Bread Crumbs
Slightly adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Breakfast & Brunch
Serves 2

1 lb. asparagus spears
4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
2 tsp. butter
2- 1/4″ thick slices of pancetta, chopped
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 large eggs
Grated Parmesan cheese for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Rinse asparagus, pat dry, and remove tough ends.  This last step is easily done without a knife:  simply bend the lower part of the spear and it will snap where the tenderness begins.  Arrange on a foil-lined sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Bake for 15 minutes or until spears are just tender and bright green.  When done, roll edges of foil up and in to create a pouch and keep the asparagus warm.

In the meantime, heat butter in a skillet over medium high.  Add pancetta and saute for 1 minute.  When the pancetta is just golden, add the bread crumbs and toss around frequently for 2 minutes.  Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over medium high heat.  Add each egg and space them about 1 inch apart.  Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.  Cook until desired doneness.

Just before the eggs are done, divide the asparagus between the two plates.  Top each asparagus pile with an egg, sprinkle with pancetta bread crumb mixture, and garnish with Parmesan cheese if desired.  Serve immediately.

Additional notes:

  • In hindsight, I think homemade bread crumbs would be a little more interesting than the store-bought I used.  You could process them a little less than the premade ones are and bring a chunkier texture to the dish .  If you have the time and motivation, give this a shot and let me know how it works out.
  • Egg your way!  I usually eat mine scrambled and that would work equally well.  The benefit of fried eggs is the creamy consistency an undercooked yolk can bring to the plate.  Your call.

3 Responses to “italian breakfast”

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  1. patty hughes says:

    Mmmmmmm!!!!!!!!! Is this what you shopped for last night?

  2. sue says:

    This meals makes me want to eat breakfast 24-7. Fantastic my friend!

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