My first vacation away from my parents, at age 16, was quite adventurous, food-wise. I spent 10 days or so in the Calabrian city of Rossano, and during that time, I tasted for the first time a whole array of foods that I liked a lot, like caciocavallo silano and swordfish. One day, my host prepared a frittata with leftover spaghetti. It sounds pretty basic, but I had never had anything like that before. My mother always weighed pasta before cooking it, so we never had leftover spaghetti or rigatoni. If we had leftover tagliatelle al ragù, she would warm them up in an oiled frying pan: the result is quite good, just not a frittata.
Unlike my mother, I often turn leftover pasta into a frittata. This is not so much a recipe as a recycling approach. The frittata is a bit different every time, depending on the base pasta and possible additions, usually cheese. I adjust the number of eggs and pan size to the amount of pasta at hand and choose among the cheeses I have available the one that I think pairs better with the pasta.
The spaghetti frittata I tasted many years ago was made with pasta that had been set aside for the purpose right after draining (scondita, i.e., not yet dressed). In my examples here, the leftover pasta had some dressing (condita):
- pasta made with roasted red beets turns a lovely pink color: while farfalle are pretty, they take time to make, so more often I cut the dough into tagliatelle and dress them with burro e parmigiano
- pasta made with borage, on the other hand, turns into a speckled green; if I have some of my homemade ricotta, I use that to dress these tagliatelle, otherwise, good old burro e parmigiano is always a winner
- pasta al pesto (recently featured) appears regularly in my kitchen and leftovers make a tasty frittata
The cheese on the pink tagliatelle frittata was my homemade robiola. The cheese on the borage tagliatelle was my homemade French Neufchâtel and over the pesto pasta frittata I sprinkled a bit of Parmigiano-Reggiano.
- leftover pasta
- olive oil
- eggs of good quality (I used pastured eggs); if you have leftover whites, this is a good place to use one or two
- 1 tablespoon of water for each two eggs
- sea salt, to taste
- cheese of choice, thinly sliced or crumbled or grated, depending on consistency
Spray a skillet with olive oil and warm up. Empty leftover pasta container into the pan. Warm up the pasta and lightly sauté it for a couple of minutes, stirring every now and then.
While the pasta is warming up, break the eggs in a bowl and whisk them lightly with a fork until just blended. Add the water, then a few pinches of salt and whisk briefly. If you are using grated cheese, you can add it to the eggs, if you wish; I like to distribute it on the surface, so I hold on to it until later. Turn on the broiler. (If your oven allows it, choose the "low" setting.)
Pour the eggs slowly into the skillet. With the fork, gently arrange the pasta so it is evenly distributed. Cook over low heat until the eggs are set. After the edge is set, run a spatula under it and shake the frittata gently to ensure the bottom does not stick to the pan.
Evenly distribute chosen cheese on the surface. Place the skillet in the oven, leaving the door ajar, for a couple of minutes. The frittata will puff up a bit. Take the skillet out of the oven (don't forget that the handle is hot) and let rest of a couple of minutes, then slide the frittata onto a serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve.
Final note. Rossano is famous for the Codex Purpureus, an amazing VI century illuminated manuscript of the New Testament written on purple-dyed parchment.
Click on the button to hear me pronounce the Italian words mentioned in the post:
or launch the frittata di pasta audio file [mp3].
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