Bursts of inspiration, we haven’t had a lot of them, at least I haven’t. My husband, on the other hand, has been having a lot of fun in the kitchen, much of it is due to nostalgia for the tastes of home, but his inspiration hasn’t been limited to the Bay of Naples alone, this, however, is strictly napoletano and can be found in an Neapolitan pizzeria or friggitoria.
We’ve always loved frittate di maccheroni, whenever there is pasta leftover it will always be made into a frittata, Napoli’s genius method of not letting any food go to waste. We spent a lot of time in Naples when we were living in Puglia, a lot more time than I had ever spent when we were living in Tuscany and Rome. On our trips I had the chance to get to know the city and the food in ways that I hadn’t had the chance to do before. One of my great discoveries were le frittatine di pasta, little fritters of pasta made with ham, peas and bechamel, so delicious. After a stroke of homesickness my husband made them one weekend and I’m hoping her will make them again sometime soon.
There is a lot of process to this recipe, a lot of Neapolitan food involves process, but just like most things that take a little extra sweat, these were so worth the effort. The next time he makes them we will have to invite friends over to savour them with us.
Frittatine di Pasta Napoletane
- 350 g (3/4 lb) of bucatini
- 250 g (1/2 lb) of ham cut into small cubes
- 300 g (10 oz.) peas
- 1 tbsp of onion, minced
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 300 g (10 oz.) smoked mozzarella cut into small cubes
- 50 g (2 oz.) grated parmigiano reggiano
- pepper to taste
for the bechamel:
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons sifted all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk
- salt and pepper to taste
for the batter:
- 1/2 L (2 cups) of cold water
- 300 g (around 3 cups) of flour
- salt to taste
- Vegetable Oil for frying
Break the bucatini into 4 pieces and boil them in salted water, removing them from the water when they are very al dente.
For the bechamel, heat the butter over medium heat in a heavy saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes, until smooth and bubbling, but not browned. It should have the texture of wet sand. Whisk in the milk all at once and bring to a simmer, whisking all the while, until the mixture begins to thicken. Turn the heat to very low and simmer, stirring often with a whisk and scraping the bottom and edges of the pan with a rubber spatula, for 10 to 15 minutes, until the sauce is thick and has lost its raw-flour taste. Season with salt and pepper.
Heat the olive oil in a small pan and saute the minced onion, add the peas and cook them for about 10 minutes over low-medium heat.
Combine the bucatini with the bechamel, ham, smoked mozzarella, peas, parmigiano and a pinch of pepper. Mix it together well and pour it into a shallow baking dish, distribute in a way to create an even level, cover and place in the refrigerator for about 2 hours.
After the pasta has rested in the fridge start to heat up the oil for frying and start to make the timballini of pasta. Take a biscuit cutter or a small cup and cut the pasta into small round forms or timballini. Mix the batter together. Submerge the pasta rounds into the batter, covering them completely and fry in the hot oil until golden brown. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
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