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Eggs in a Nest

Updated April 21, 2016
This image courtesy of Laura Ferroni

I love these soft-cooked quail eggs nestled into crisp and creamy pasta gratin “nests.” The edges of the pasta get just a little caramelized and are easy to eat; you can make them in advance and warm them up before adding the eggs. Be sure to serve the nests quickly after the eggs have cooked.

Makes6 nests

Cooking Methodbaking

CostInexpensive

Total Timeunder 1 hour

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

One Pot MealYes

OccasionFamily Get-together

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationhalal, kosher, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free, vegetarian

Five Ingredients or LessYes

Mealbrunch, dinner, lunch

Taste and Texturecheesy, creamy, savory

Type of Dishpasta

Ingredients

  • Butter for greasing tin
  • 1/2 pound spaghetti or capellini
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or pecorino cheese, divided
  • Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
  • Pinch of piment d’espelette or hot paprika
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 6 quail eggs
  • Fresh herbs, fried shallots, or pesto, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and lightly butter a regular-size 6-cup muffin tin.

  2. Cook the pasta according to the package directions until al dente.

  3. While the pasta is cooking, in a large bowl stir together the cream, 1/4 cup of the cheese, nutmeg, and piment d’espelette. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

  4. Using a pasta spoon, scoop the cooked pasta out of the water and into the cream mixture. Stir well to coat each strand. Add a little of the pasta water if the cream starts to clump. Let the pasta rest in the cream for a couple of minutes.

  5. Using tongs, grab a small amount of the pasta and let it hang for a minute over the bowl to straighten. Then place it in one of the muffin cups, forming a spiral as you lay it in. Don’t worry too much about making a perfect nest, but do leave a little indentation in the middle. Repeat with the remaining pasta, filling all the cups. If you still have some cream in the bowl, pour enough into each nest so you can just see it starting to show through the top layer of pasta. If you’re out of liquid, get a bit more cream to top off each nest. Divide the remaining 1/4 cup cheese among the nests, sprinkling it on top.

  6. Bake the nests until the tops are golden and bubbly, about 10 minutes. Remove the tin from the oven and carefully, so as not to burn yourself, crack a quail egg into the center of each nest. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake the eggs for 5 minutes, or until the whites have set.

  7. Let the gratin cool for 5 to 10 minutes to firm up before serving. Garnish with the herbs, shallots, or a little pesto. Yum!

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Of course this will work with a hen's egg. You'll just have to make the nests slightly bigger.

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