Monday, January 12, 2009

Recipe: Pasta frittata, the highest and best use for leftover pasta

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I think the original leftover pasta frittata came to me via a very old issue of Gourmet magazine. That must have been in the late 80s. Since then I've made this dish in dozens of ways. The methodology is always the same; the ingredients vary wildly depending on what's in my pantry or refrigerator at any given time.

The frittata above was made with leftover whole-wheat penne with pesto and baby spinach. But you can use any shape pasta, any kind of sauce, any add-ins. It works with everything.

Someday, when I write my first cookbook, I'm going to call it The Goddess of Leftovers. Because, truly, I am.

Leftover pasta frittata

any kind of leftover pasta, with sauce on
6-8 eggs
a few handfuls of shredded cheese (I use mozzarella, but others would work)
a handful of grated parmesan or romano cheese
salt and pepper
anything else that you think might work: crumbled bacon, diced cooked chicken, leftover cooked vegetables, capers, chopped anchovies, a few sun-dried tomatoes....

Preheat the broiler on high. Put the rack on the second-highest shelf - you want it more than a couple inches away from the heat (in my oven, anyway) or the frittata will burn on top.

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. You want there to be enough egg that you can see it, because the egg will surround the pasta in the pan and make a sort of omelet around it. But you don't want there to be so much egg that it's mostly egg. It's a balancing act. (And if you don't get it exactly right, don't worry, because it will still taste great.)

Heat an ovenproof skillet over high heat. Swirl in some olive oil, then dump in the pasta-egg mixture. As it sets, lift up the edges with a spatula so more of the egg can run underneath.

When the bottom is set and browned, take the skillet and put it under the broiler. Check it after three minutes to make sure it's not burning. I usually leave it in about five minutes, but last time I did end up burning it, so next time I'm going to be more careful.

When the top is golden brown, remove it from the heat and let it sit in the pan for about 10 minutes. The residual heat will cook the egg all the way through, if it hasn't already, and letting it cool will allow it to set up a bit before you take it out and cut it.

After a little bit, slide the frittata onto a board. Cut into wedges. Eat hot, warm, cold, whatever.

My favorite combination, by the way, is leftover pasta with pesto, to which I add capers, anchovies, bacon, and mozzarella. Try it and tell me what your favorite combo is!

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