This speedy dish is the perfect way to stretch leftover pasta into a fun new meal－and the recipe works with spaghetti squash, too!
Who doesn’t love leftover spaghetti? Sometimes, however, we end up with more noodles than sauce, or the leftovers aren’t quite sufficient to feed everyone.
Enter this easy pasta frittata.
The eggs act as a binder and a small amount of Parmesan lightly flavors the plain pasta. A few pieces of crisp bacon, diced ham, or leftover bits of cooked broccoli serve as optional ways to further bolster this meal.
This recipe is by no means gourmet, but it’s functional, satisfying, economical and speedy－all good reasons to keep it in your back pocket and enjoy from time to time.
I’ve made this dish with regular spaghetti as well as gluten-free varieties, and a year or so ago, I experimented with some leftover cooked spaghetti squash I had on hand.
Now that I’ve sung the merits of reinventing and stretching a bit of leftover noodles with this simple recipe, I should also note that it’s a reliable pantry meal when caught in one of those “I have nothing to eat” situations. That is to say, a few pantry ingredients can be paired with a frozen vegetable and save you at dinnertime!
For those who might like to try using cooked spaghetti squash instead of pasta, following is what I did: Start with 2 lightly packed cups or about 7-8 ounces cooked spaghetti squash. (This was one small spaghetti squash.) You may use leftover squash or microwave (after piercing several times with a sharp knife) until tender. For those who prefer to bake the squash, click here for easy instructions. The squash frittata was harder to flip than the pasta version, so I broiled it for about 2 minutes, until it was lightly golden in spots and just set.
As mentioned with the pasta version, a small amount of crisp bacon adds great flavor, although you could use pancetta, prosciutto or even some finely chopped deli ham.
Here’s a picture from when I experimented with spaghetti squash in place of pasta.⇧ And just to keep things straight, one more look at the original recipe. ⇩
- 2 lightly packed cups of leftover spaghetti or pasta of choice (gluten-free, if needed)
- 2 pieces bacon, chopped (may substitue about 1 tablespoon olive oil)
- 4 eggs
- 1/4 cup (1 ounce) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper, to taste (when using bacon and/or Parmesan, you may not needed added salt)
- Optional garnish/toppings: finely chopped fresh parsley, basil, or chives; chopped tomato; chopped avocado; additional crumbled bacon; salsa
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and then stir in the Parmesan cheese. Fold in the cooked pasta, evenly coating with the egg mixture. Set aside.
Heat a skillet large enough to fit the pasta and egg mixture (anything between an 8- to 10-inch diameter skillet should work well) over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp. (If using olive oil instead of bacon, add it to the pan and swirl it around gently to coat the sides of the pan.)
Pour in the pasta mixture, and use a spatula to evenly distribute it in the pan. Cook until the underside is golden, moving the pan around on the burner to ensure even cooking, about 5-6 minutes. Peek underneath a few times to check for a good golden brown color and to prevent it from cooking too long and burning.
Invert a round platter or dinner plate over the skillet, hold the plate and skillet with oven mitts and carefully flip over. Lift the skillet off of the plate, and then carefully slide the frittata back into the skillet and cook until the bottom is golden. When the bottom is lightly golden and the center is just cooked through, slide the frittata onto a platter or serve from the skillet. Serve with optional garnishes/toppings as desired.
•The character of the frittata will vary according to the size and shape of the pasta and the sauce you used to dress it. I typically use leftover pasta that has been lightly tossed with olive oil (to prevent it from sticking to itself) and no sauce. The recipe is flexible, however, and may be made with pasta that has leftover sauce on it if the sauce has been mostly absorbed. Finally, the ratio of egg to leftover pasta may be varied a little either way; just make sure you have enough egg to bind the pasta together.
•Pancetta or ham could be used in place of the crumbled bacon, or you could experiment with the addition of a small amount of cooked and chopped vegetables like broccoli or spinach.
The Leftover Spaghetti Pizza pictured above (which, despite the name, is truly more baked pasta than pizza), is a perfect option when your leftover pasta is mixed with sauce.