Frittata di Maccheroni
There are few things that are more Neapolitan than a Frittata di Maccheroni, maybe Pulcinella, but this is a dish that defines a culture. Using leftover pasta, mixing it with eggs and frying it up into a frittata, not letting a thing go to waste.
My husband often complains that only Neapolitans like fritatta di maccheroni, and was surprised when I thought that it was delicious. Most of our Italian friends who aren’t from Naples turn their noses up at it. Arthur Schwartz wrote a very telling blurb about it in his cookbook Naples at Table:
I’ve heard Italians from other regions make jokes about how Neapolitans love their frittatas of pasta – “those poor people whose cuisine is so limited and who eat so much pasta they even put it in their omelets.” It’s a point not well taken in Naples, where the pasta frittata is instead considered a stroke of Neapolitan genius: “We clever people who can take just a few eggs, some bits of cheese, and leftover spaghetti and make such a glorious dish.”
I too think it is a stroke of genius.
The best frittata are made with a tomato based short pasta, but you can really make one with any pasta that you have left over, like the linguini with artichokes that you see in the pictures. We often cook up a quick tomato sauce and a half pound of pasta just to make a frittata.
Frittata di Maccheroni
- leftover pasta
- eggs (the quantity depends on how much pasta you are making, for a 1/2 pound of pasta use 3 eggs, you don’t want it to be too eggy, though enough to bind the pasta)
- 1/4 cup of grated parmiggiano (you don’t want to waste the good stuff, you can use the grated cheese product in the green can)
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- salt to taste
Mix the leftover pasta in a bowl with the eggs and the grated cheese. When it is well blended add it to a non-stick pan with the two tablespoons of oil in it. The size of the pan will depend on the amount of pasta that you are using, you want the frittata to be about an inch high in the pan, if it is too thin it will break apart when you flip it.
Heat the frittata covered over medium heat, you don’t want to pre-heat the pan before adding the pasta mix. After about 10 minutes shake the pan to make sure that it doesn’t stick. It should be well-browned on one side after about 15 minutes.
Place a plate on top of the pan and reverse the frittata so it falls onto the plate, you can also do this with the pan’s lid if it is fairly flat and not bowl-like. Slip the frittata back into the pan and cook the other side for about 10 minutes, until it browns.
Transfer the frittata onto a plate that is lined with paper towels to soak up the oil, sprinkle with salt and place paper towels on top, pressing with your hands to soak up any additional oil.
It is best served at room temperature, but still tasty hot if you can’t resist. My husband and I also like it a little burnt, like a good grilled cheese sandwich.