Pasta Frittata

Many years ago, when I was in Italy staying at my aunt and uncle’s house for the summer, my aunt made me this dish with some leftover spaghetti.  It was a revelation–she just cracked some eggs into the pasta, sauce and all, added cheese and turned the whole mass into a skillet of sizzling butter.  It was so delicious, I never forgot the flavor, and I think of my (late) Aunt Rita every time I make it.

Last night, I made whole wheat spaghetti and tomato sauce, and  I purposely made extra pasta because I wanted to make this frittata.

This frittata may be made with any type of long noodle, and it need not be whole wheat, although I’ve found that the nuttiness of the whole wheat noodle adds a wonderful dimension to the dish.

Exact quantities are difficult to prescribe here, and not crucial, so I’ll simply show you the technique and give you some general instructions on how to duplicate this in your kitchen.

I began with about 2 cups cold cooked whole wheat spaghetti in tomato sauce.  In a mixing bowl, I added 2 large eggs, 1/2 cup grated pecorino romano cheese, 2 tablespoons milk or half and half, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.  You could add up to 6 eggs here, depending on how eggy and creamy you want the finished dish–I happen to like it drier and crispier.

Note:  the mixture must be very salty to make a flavorful frittata, so prior to adding the eggs, taste it and make sure that the salt is right.  If not, add additional salt.  In my case, the leftover pasta was on the salty side, therfore no additional salt was necessary.

In a nonstick skillet (I usually use an 8″ skillet to make frittata, since I like the frittata to have a little height), melt about 1 tablespoon of butter, making sure to coat the sides of the skillet well.  When the butter has melted and begins to sizzle, add the pasta and eggs and stir briefly.

Turn the heat to low and allow it to brown, undisturbed, on the underside–this may take about 8 minutes, depending on your flame.   Lift gently with a spatula from time to time to check the underside.  When it is golden brown, turn a large plate on top of the skillet, flip the frittata onto the plate and slip it back into the skillet to cook on the other side.

Tuck in any loose spaghetti around the edges with the spatula to ensure a nice round shape.  Fry for another 6 to 8 minutes until the underside is brown and crispy.  Let settle for at least 10 minutes prior to cutting.  The inside will be creamy and cheesy and the outside will be crispy and nutty.

The best thing with which to serve frittata is a salad of some sort.  Tonight, we had a salad of arugula, tomatoes, crispy fried eggplant and cubes of mozzarella.  My neighbor Beppi surprised me with one last eggplant from his garden, so I sauteed it added it to the salad.

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