Nothing in the pantry? Pasta Española is the flavorful answer

The art of Spanish cooking lies in taking a few simple ingredients and turning them into something packed with flavor and comfort. When I opened my post power-outage fridge today and saw just a head of cabbage from 2022, two eggs and the remnants of a wedge of Manchego, I channeled my inner Spanish peasant and cooked up this absolutely scrumptious, satisfying lunch shared with my husband: spaghetti tossed with velvety-sauteed cabbage and garlic with smoked paprika (pimentón ahumado), topped with a crispy fried egg and shaved manchego cheese. You can’t go wrong with these flavors, and smoked Spanish paprika is, I feel, essential in this dish. (It can be found in many major grocery stores, spice shops and online.)

This dish is best eaten in the moment, as fried eggs don’t store well, and because the pasta and cabbage dries out if it sits too long. The recipe below serves four, but feel free to adjust the number of eggs and other ingredients according to how many you’re serving in the moment.

Pasta Española

Serves 4


1 pound spaghetti

3 tablespoons good Spanish olive oil, plus more for frying the eggs

6 cloves garlic, sliced

1 teaspoon pimentón ahumado (smoked Spanish paprika), plus more for garnish

1 small head green cabbage, finely chopped

Salt and black pepper

4 eggs

2 ounces shaved Manchego cheese


Boil the spaghetti in a large pot of salted water according to package directions. Drain and reserve ¼ cup of the cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced garlic and fry for 30 seconds or until fragrant but not crisp. Immediately add the paprika to the garlic and oil for another 30 seconds to bring out the flavor before adding the cabbage. Saute the cabbage for 10 minutes or until soft and tender. Remove from heat and season generously with salt and black pepper.

When ready to serve, toss the drained pasta with the sauteed cabbage and garlic until the pasta is well-coated in the olive oil and the cabbage is incorporated, adding the reserved pasta water only if it’s too dry. Season with salt and pepper.

Fry the eggs in olive oil over medium heat for 2 to 2½ minutes or until the white is set and yolk is runny. Plate each serving of pasta with a fried egg on top seasoned with salt and pepper, and garnish with a sprinkling more of pimentón and shaved Manchego.

Registered dietitian and food writer Laura McLively is the author of “The Berkeley Bowl Cookbook.” Follow her at @myberkeleybowl and

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