something out of nothing: frittata di spaghetti

Now that I work in an office, I have a commute, officemates, and a proper lunchtime three times a week.   Since--in case you didn't realize it--writing blog posts/ cooking class handouts/ a book proposal/ story pitches doesn't exactly yield a fat paycheck, I actually have to think ahead about what I'm going to have for lunch the next day.  For the first time in my adult life I'm in a position to eat leftovers for lunch.

As you might imagine, I find this disproportionately thrilling.  Especially because I'm so cheap.

It's like the world has dawned anew.  Possibilities for tomorrow's lunch lie in the unlikeliest of places.  At any moment, I might find inspiration.  And if not, there's always a slice of Chad's bread with peanut butter.

I'm sure it'll grow old.  But for now, I'm enjoying the challenge.

Last night was one of those nights where I couldn't bear the thought of leaving home to get groceries for dinner, so I rummaged through the cupboard and found an opened box of angel hair pasta.  Out of the freezer, I dug some tomato sauce someone had given me, made with tomatoes and basil from her Noe Valley garden.  I added some Calabrian chilies and parmesan, and had a perfectly respectable bowl of pasta for dinner.  And with what was left, I decided to make a frittata di spaghetti, or in this case, capellini.

Italians rarely cook more pasta than they'll consume immediately, but when they find themselves faced with leftover noodles, the frittata di spaghetti is often how they choose to serve them.

Before I started cooking the frittata, which derives its name not from the presence of eggs, but rather from the simple fact that it's fried together in the shape of a frittata, I peeled apart two pieces of string cheese I found in the back of the fridge and mixed them into the cold noodles.  I also grated a handful of parmesan and added that in.

I got out my one and only non-stick pan (in a braver moment, I might have considered using the cast iron, but between the cheese, tomato sauce, and all of that starch, I feared the worst.  Plus, using the non-stick meant I wouldn't have to watch the frittata as closely, and therefore, could watch Downton Abbey while the pasta cooked) and heated it.  Then I added a healthy splash of olive oil and the noodles, packed them down and cranked up the heat for a few minutes so the pasta could form a healthy crust.

After about three or four minutes, I turned the heat down to medium-low, rotated the pan, and dove back into the Grantham family saga (I'm only on episode three of season one, so I still have some catching up to do).  When I was able to pull myself away from the show about eight minutes later, I went back to the stove and swirled the pan to see if the frittata was starting to come together.  When I'm cooking straw cakes, the way I know they're ready to flip is when I can put my fingers in the potatoes and rotate the entire cake with a light twist of my wrist.  I figured it'd be something similar here, and it was.

After a little bit of peeking at the bottom crust with the aid of a spatula, I figured it was time, crossed my fingers, and went for the flip.  If the flip scares the bejeezus out of you, then just slide the cake onto a cookie sheet or large plate and invert it back into the pan.  Then, start over with the high heat to get the crust going, and the medium-low heat to finish.  When the frittata is done, slide it out of the pan and serve slices.  It's equally delicious hot or cold, perfect with a little salad, some hot sauce, and a bit more parmesan.


  1. i love your "something out of nothing" recipes--first your "something out of nothing pasta" and now this frittata! i would buy a cookbook, Samin. I would.

  2. i was inspired too. i made beets and quinoa. but then i didn't go in today.