Young children and summer holidays involve some degree of planning to keep it stress-free. I don’t know about you but summer holidays for me go something like this: kids get up, eat breakfast, slowly pull on their clothes and then are bouncing off the walls, desperate to get out of the house. I inevitably make breakfast and a packed lunch at the same time as I know they will be asking for food on the way to going somewhere, if not upon arrival at our destination. I decided packed lunch was the way to go, as in the past we used to arrive at our planned location and within minutes they all began claiming to be starving and we then spent the time we had allocated for the activity at a restaurant feeding them and only managed 10 minutes at our intended destination before heading home. Small children despise sitting in restaurants in any event and I prefer to dine out stress-free. Having done all the iterations of sandwiches, rolls, wraps and bento boxes, I always welcome any form of variation, particularly one that I like as well. My main criteria is to find something nutritious, that can be eaten at any temperature and can be eaten standing, sitting, in a car or in a pushchair/stroller. The pasta frittata checks all the boxes. I cook it, cut it into thick wedges, wrap the pieces in foil and bundle them into a lunch bag.
Frittata di pasta is a genius way of using up all the handfuls of different-shaped pastas lurking in the cupboard or leftover pasta, is quick and easy to make, is portable and is a welcome departure from bread filled with various combinations. It is a combination of pasta and omelette with its slightly crunchy, golden exterior and creamy, soft interior. It is also a go-to dish when a quick, child-friendly dinner is required.
Frittata di maccheroni (pasta omelette) – Campania
Feel free to add chopped ham, chopped salami, peas, cooked chopped pancetta, chopped spring onion, a cup of tomato sauce or chopped mixed herbs such as basil, parsley and thyme to the mix. To see step-by-step illustrated instructions, click here.
You can even stuff the omelette. Just put half the pasta mixture into the pan, add a layer of sliced tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, salami and/or mozzarella, scamorza or provola cheese and top with the remaining pasta mixture. Cook as per the recipe below.
350 grams spaghetti (can use any shape or mixed shapes- just make sure you get the cooking times right as they will vary) (can substitute leftover pasta)
40 grams butter
60 grams Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
100 mls milk
Black pepper, freshly ground
Cook the pasta in lots of salted water for the time indicated on the packaging. When cooked, strain the pasta and toss with half of the butter. Let the pasta cool. (If using leftover pasta just start at this point).
Mix together the eggs, cheese and milk. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the pasta to the mixture, mixing well.
Heat a large nonstick frying pan over medium heat. When hot, add the remaining butter and let it melt. Swirl the butter to coat the pan and add the pasta mixture. Cover with a lid and let cook for 10 minutes. If there are any pools of liquid, use a fork to prod it to all the liquid to go to the bottom and cook. Run a spatula around the sides of the omelette to loosen it. Place a flat lid or plate on top and quickly invert the omelette onto the plate or lid. Slide the omelette back into the pan, uncooked side down. Let it cook another 2 to 3 minutes until golden. If the thought of flipping the omelette is too daunting, heat the oven on grill and grill the top of the omelette until golden and cooked through.
Invert the omelette again onto a plate and cut into wedges. Serve.
Frank De RIso says
This is hands down one my best childhood memories! My Nonna from Naples used to make this all the time and it was always from the mixed leftover pasta in the cupboard. Fusilli, Rigatoni, penne, ziti, spaghetti. She used to bake it in a big porcelain lasagna pan so it used to be at least 3.5 inched high. When we were kids we used to pick off all of well done crunchy pieces of pasta on the top (that was the beauty of making it with mixed pasta, all of the odd shapes where sticking up in all different directions) … anyway, it was simply a slice of heaven …sometimes it had chopped fennel sausage in it too! Many years later I was in Naples for the first time and came across a store with a little glass case on the street and they were selling the spaghetti variety on the street for 1 Euro per slice. To say I had a transcendent experience is an understatement ! It tasted exactly like I was I sitting in my Nonna’s kitchen on 3rd Avenue and Union Street in Brooklyn. That was a wonderful food induced memory.
Yum, the sausage version also sounds delicious. My two year old is obsessed with sausages so I’ll throw that in next time too. Baking it saves the nerve racking flipping of the frittata and you probably get a higher ratio of creamy centre to crunchy outside since it is set deeper. Great tip, thanks Frank.