Vegetarian pasta with a homemade tomato and basil sauce, plus vegetables, topped with cheese and an egg.
What are two words we don’t hear often enough? Breakfast pasta.
Yes, there are plenty of other words too, like ‘world peace’, ‘good news’ and ‘free chocolate’. But today I’m focusing on the underrated but delicious phenomenon that is breakfast pasta.
Breakfast pasta is absolutely not traditional in Italy. But it is traditional for me. As I’ve probably mentioned before, I used to love eating leftover pasta for breakfast when I was a kid. (I used to eat a lot of strange things for breakfast during my childhood). Actually, I used to – and still do – enjoy eating pasta whatever time of day it was.
True story: When I finally learned how to make pasta by myself in my early teens, I once ate penne for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
After abandoning the pasta-for-breakfast habit in favour of more traditional breakfast foods, like oatmeal, pancakes and muffins, I’ve finally re-discovered the joy of waking up to a bowl of pasta.
Yes, it’s a bit strange. But hear me out for a moment. Is eating pasta really that different to eating oatmeal? Or Cream of Wheat? Or Rice Krispies? And, much more importantly, pasta is delicious.
This Tomato, Basil and Mushroom Breakfast Pasta was inspired by one of the most
boring traditional breakfast dishes out there: eggs on toast. But I thought I’d swap the toast for pasta, and add cheese (because, you know, nearly everything is better with cheese).
For the pasta sauce, I asked myself, ‘What else is breakfast-y?’ Well, tomatoes and mushrooms are often available on breakfast/brunch menus as side dishes, so I thought I’d make a rich tomato sauce and add mushrooms. Plus lots of basil, because I absolutely adore basil (also, it lasts for about five seconds in the fridge, so you need to use it up quickly!).
I was also after something with a slightly bacon-y flavour. Being a vegetarian, I wasn’t about to use actual bacon, so instead I added roasted bell peppers (also known as capsicums). I’ve included my usual method of blackening bell peppers in the recipe notes, but I imagine that store-bought roasted bell peppers would work too.
Other options include sundried tomatoes, charred eggplant, more mushrooms, or pan fry some veggie (or real) bacon.
While this recipe involves quite a few steps – given that you need to have a roasted bell pepper on hand, make the sauce, sauté the mushrooms and cook the pasta – you can make a lot of it in advance. The sauce will last for several days in the fridge, and so will roasted bell peppers. Then all you need to do is sauté the mushrooms while the pasta’s cooking and mix everything together. Top it with cheese and an egg or two, and bake until the egg is cooked to your liking.
Plus, you can reheat leftovers in the oven or on the stove – reheating pasta on the stove works surprisingly well!
By the way, if eating pasta for breakfast just isn’t your cup of tea, then you could always enjoy this pasta for lunch or dinner (with or without the eggs).
- Tomato and Basil Sauce
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
- 2 cups (520g) tomato passata
- 1 ½ cups (360mL) cups water
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 10 – 15 fresh basil leaves
- 6 ounces (175g) dry short pasta
- 2 cups (160g) sliced mushrooms
- 1 roasted red bell pepper, chopped
- Salt and pepper
- 1 – 2 eggs
- ⅓ cup (25g) shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 tablespoon (5g) finely grated parmesan cheese
- Tomato and Basil Sauce: In a large saucepan, warm the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the chopped shallot and a pinch of salt. Sauté for 3 – 5 minutes, or until the shallot is tender and translucent.
- Add the tomato passata, water, salt and basil leaves. Bring the mixture to a simmer.
- With the saucepan lid partly on (so it is tilted), simmer the sauce for 35 – 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Adjust the stove heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer. If the sauce reduces too much or too quickly, stir in a little more water.
- Breakfast Pasta: Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Grease a a 4 ½ cup (about 1 liter) capacity baking dish.
- Cook the short pasta in a saucepan of salted boiling water until it is just al dente, which is usually 1 – 2 minutes less than the time specified on the packet instructions. Drain and set aside.
- Meanwhile, preheat a deep skillet or fry pan over medium heat. Grease with cooking oil spray, and then add the sliced mushrooms. Cook for 4 – 6 minutes, or until the mushrooms have released their juices and reduced in size.
- Add the roasted bell pepper and season with salt and pepper. Remove the skillet from the heat. Stir in the cooked pasta and 2 cups (480mL) of the Tomato and Basil Sauce. Transfer to the prepared baking dish.
- Use the back of a spoon to make one or two shallow indentations in the pasta. Crack an egg into each indentation. Scatter over the shredded cheddar cheese and parmesan cheese.
- Bake the pasta for 12 – 16 minutes, or until the egg whites have set and the cheese has melted.
1. Preheat the broiler (oven grill). Line a baking sheet with aluminium foil, and grease the foil with cooking oil spray.
2. Slice the bell pepper in half, remove the stems and seeds, and place it skin side up on the prepared baking sheet. Broil (grill) for 10 – 20 minutes, or until the skin has blackened.
3. Transfer the blackened pepper to a plastic freezer bag, seal the bag closed, and set aside to cool for at least 20 minutes. Once cool, remove the skin and roughly chop the pepper (scissors are easiest for this).
Tomato passata – or passata di pomodoro – is tomato puree.
Bell peppers are also known as capsicums.
The rectangular baking dish I used was approximately 8 x 5 inches, or 20 x 12.5 cm