Mark Bittman on Shine: Pasta Frittata

Mark BittmanMark Bittman

Pasta frittataPasta frittataThis is a perfect way to use leftover pasta, instantly lovable and easily varied; add whatever fresh herbs you like or use grains, bread, or potatoes instead of pasta (see the variations). And you don't even have to use long pasta; try this with rigatoni for more chew. From How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.

Makes: 4 servings
Time: 40 minutes, including cooking the pasta

1/4 pound spaghetti, linguine, fettuccine, or other long pasta or about 1/2 pound cooked pasta
Salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter or extra virgin olive oil
5 eggs
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped parsley or fresh basil leaves (optional)

1. If you're using dried pasta, bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Cook the pasta until barely tender, somewhat short of where you would normally cook it. Drain and immediately toss it in a wide bowl with half the butter or oil. Cool it a bit.

2. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Put the remaining butter or oil in a large ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.

3. Beat the eggs with some salt and pepper in a large bowl, then stir in the pasta with half of the Parmesan and the herb if you're using it. Pour the egg mixture into the skillet and immediately turn the heat down to medium-low. Use a spoon if necessary to even out the top of the frittata. Cook, undisturbed, until the mixture firms up on the bottom, 10 to 15 minutes, then transfer to the oven. Bake until the top is just cooked, about 10 minutes more. Remove and serve hot or at room temperature with the remaining Parmesan.

Basic Frittata. As easy as it gets: Omit the pasta, add one more egg, and add all the Parmesan in Step 3.

Frittata with Grains. Substitute 11/2 cups or so cooked grains, like farro, wheat berries, rye berries, quinoa, bulgur, or buckwheat, for the pasta.

Bread Frittata. Poor people's food, obviously, but good: Substitute 11/2 cups or so cubed or torn day-old crusty bread for the pasta.

Potato Tortilla. Cut into slices and serve as a Spanish tapa or a terrific sandwich filling. The large amount of olive oil isn't a typo; most is poured off, and it can be used in sautéing or stir-frying (store in the fridge): Substitute 3 or 4 medium potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced, for the pasta and add a medium thinly sliced onion. Use 1 cup olive oil and add one more egg. Omit the Parmesan. In Step 1, heat the oil in the pan over medium heat; add the potatoes and onion when a slice of potato bubbles in the oil. Sprinkle with some salt and pepper, adjust the heat so the oil bubbles slowly (you don't want to brown the potatoes), and cook the potato mixture, turning every few minutes, until tender when pierced, about 20 minutes. Drain the potato mixture in a colander, reserving the oil. Proceed with the recipe, using 2 tablespoons of the reserved oil to cook the tortilla. Serve warm (not hot) or at room temperature.

How to Cook Everything VegetarianHow to Cook Everything Vegetarian

The ultimate one-stop vegetarian cookbook-from the author of the classic How to Cook Everything. Hailed as "a more hip Joy of Cooking" by the Washington Post, Mark Bittman's award-winning book How to Cook Everything has become the bible for a new generation of home cooks. Now, with How to Cook Everything: Vegetarian, Bittman has written the definitive guide to meatless meals-a book that will appeal to everyone who wants to cook simple but delicious meatless dishes, from health-conscious omnivores to passionate vegetarians.