So it's lent, and I've gone meat free until Easter.  I will give myself a pass on my birthday next month, if we are able to come through with reservations for a place in NYC with my favorite chef, who does private dinners.  (cross your fingers for me!)

Because I've also become a gym rat, I'm looking for sources of protein that are not beans or quinoa.  My replacement for all meat is the amazing egg!  I realized that I have never poached an egg before, so I checked the internets for how to do this, then let Alice Waters guide me through the process (she explains it in my new cookbook).  Not only is it easy, it's really fun, and feels like a science fair project.  I would totally teach kids how to do this, just cause it looks awesome.

The trick is to cook the rest of  your food first.  Leave the egg as the very last thing you do.  So I cooked up some farfalle, sauteed spinach and asparagus in olive oil and garlic, tossed in a handful of pine nuts, and sprinkled sea salt over the whole thing.  While that was hanging out, I moved on to the eggs!

If you have never tried this, here's how!

Start out with a pot of water on medium heat, and throw in some vinegar.  This helps the whites do the cool egg white thing.  Crack an egg into a small, shallow dish.  I used a ramekin for each egg.

The water should be hot, but not boiling.  When I saw the teeny bubbles lining the bottom of the pot, I knew I was close.  So water boils at 212 degrees, so I waited until my water was about 175-178.  Then you start the swirl.  Swirl water around the pot like you did in the bathtub as a little kid to make a hot tub (that wasn't just me, right?) Once the water is moving around the pan, slide the egg into the middle of the spinning water.  Make sure the water keeps spinning.  Use a spoon to keep the water moving.  This makes the egg whites form around the yolk. Also, this looks really cool, like a sea creature.  The egg will be done between 3-5 minutes. I kept my eggs in the water just shy of 4 minutes.   After 5 you have a soft-boiled egg, and any longer, and it's a hard-boiled egg, which while yummy, is not the goal.

Use a slotted spoon to rescue the egg from the water and place it on top of your dish (could be toast, the makings of eggs Benedict, or my pasta dish).

After the egg was on the pasta, I sprinkled fresh grated Parmesan-Reggiano over everything.  Add another sprinkle of sea salt and fresh pepper.  The yolk and the cheese mixed together work to sort of create a sauce.  Very simple, really tasty.  On my first attempt, the yolk escaped from the white, but on egg number 2, it behaved and was lovely!