I hate to waste food but am guilty as charged. Inevitably I make too much of something, put it into an airtight container with the best of intentions to eat later and then it sits in my fridge until it could walk away on its own. Just ask L'il Burnt Toast. I am guessing you’ve been there too. If you find yourself with leftover pasta from carbonara to primavera I have a solution.
When you are cooking for one there will always be leftover pasta, I enjoy this dish so much that when I cook pasta, even for company, I often prepare extra for this specific purpose. A pasta frittata makes a delicious light lunch with a crisp salad, or, even better an outstanding breakfast dish with a side of Canadian bacon. While on vacation in Italy those enterprising Italians even cut it in small cubes and served it as part of an antipasto platter which whet my appetite and left me wanting more.
I have been making this long enough to know that I can pull it off for myself or for company. I toss the leftover spaghetti in a bowl with some beaten eggs a handful of fresh basil, healthy doses of cheese and a few grindings of pepper. I throw it all into an oven-proof skillet with some sautéed shallots and even more garlic for boosted flavour. It cooks on the stovetop first and after being topped with a sprinkling of cheese is finished off and baked in the oven.
This frittata was made with yesterdays Spaghetti con Zucchine alla Nerano so included zucchini, fresh basil, and Provolone del Monaco cheese. These leftovers made the perfect muse for elevating the everyday into something special. This is the kind of recipe you can change and adapt to work with whatever you have on hand. What has taken me years to understand is that recipes like the one below are merely guidelines and are open to any interpretation. I used to follow recipes to the letter and they always turned out well, but as the years progressed, and I have become confident in the kitchen, I am more open to experimentation and substitution. The recipe is a starting point and a guideline since from there you are on your own and limited only by your imagination!
With that in mind you can use almost any cut of leftover cold pasta, plain or fancy, and add any cheese, meat, vegetable or herbs that you or your family would enjoy. And just like that leftovers are sexy again. I am here to tell you that being frugal is also sexy!! Experiment with ingredients, quantities and make this recipe your own. What would tickle your fancy?
** Spaghetti Frittata**
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 shallot, minced
2 cups leftover spaghetti with add-ins
1/2 cup half and half
1 cup Provolone del Monaco cheese, grated
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (2 ounces)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
6-8 large eggs, lightly beaten
Preheat the oven to 350°. In a medium skillet, melt the butter in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook over moderately high heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the shallots and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Allow to cool.
Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and the half and half, grated Provolone, and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese. Season with freshly ground pepper. Add the eggs and whisk to combine. Add leftover pasta and mix thoroughly.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet until shimmering. Swirl the pan to coat the sides with oil and pour in the frittata mixture, spreading it evenly. Cook over moderately high heat until the frittata is barely set on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan evenly over the top.
Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake the frittata for about 30 minutes, or until it is firm in the center and cooked through. Run a knife around the edge to loosen the frittata. Using 2 oven mitts, invert a large round platter over the frittata. Flip the skillet and platter to unmold the frittata and serve it cut into wedges, hot or at room temperature.
The frittata can stand at room temperature for up to 3 hours before serving. You can also cut the frittata into small rectangles or squares and serve as an appetizer.
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