Thursday, 13 March 2008
Recipe: Fried Pasta
Leftovers. There's much to be said for them. In part, it's associational, I'm sure - childhood memories of treasure trove to be discovered in the fridge the morning after parental dinner parties - and in part, I won't deny, there's a sense of satisfaction in having no wastage and in making sure that every last scrap gets used up somehow (I don't have Scots blood for nothing!)
Many leftovers are just that and no more, and they tend merely to be boxed up and disappear into the freezer to be unearthed and consumed at some future date, exactly as they were the first time around. Other ways of dealing with recycled food, though, are so good in their own right that it's worth making double the amount to start with, solely in order to be able to make the 'leftovers' dish in the subsequent days. Tartes aux Moules following on from Moules Marinières, is a prime example, and seared Salmon fillet as a precursor, several days later, to Salmon fishcakes. There are a number of recipes available for dealing with leftover risotto - none of which I find at all persuasive, and so I just ensure that I never have any leftover risotto in the first place - but the best, the absolute best recipe of all for leftovers is Fried Pasta. It is always worth cooking extra Pasta, just to be able to have it fried in the day or so afterwards......
Nowhere have I ever come across any reference to this method of serving Pasta, either in print or from anybody else talking about it. I've even quizzed Italians about it, and have drawn a complete blank - the closest they come is a pasta frittata, which isn't the same thing at all. The method came from Piero Aversa, who regularly produced it for lunch in his kitchen in Florida in the eighties - he grew up in Rome during the War, so perhaps it harks back to that time, when every last bit of food had to count.
I hesitate to call this a recipe, so much as a 'method'. There aren't any stages, merely an instruction. But, here goes:
Ingredients: Leftover cooked Pasta, in sauce - sufficient for however many people you intend to feed. Any kind of Pasta can be used - although this works best with Pasta which has quite a lot of surface area to go crisp as it cooks - so, for instance, papardelle works better than spaghetti; Oil, for cooking; chopped Parsley, for garnish.
1. Pour a generous amount (say three or four tablespoons) of Oil into a large, non-stick frying pan. Heat over quite a high flame, before you add the pasta - you want there to be a quite noticeable sizzle when the Pasta first makes contact with the hot Oil.
2. Stirriing continuously - the Pasta has a terrible tendency to stick to the pan if you don't - keep the heat high for 8-10 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium, and continue for a further ten minutes or so. When the Pasta is ready, the outside will be noticeably crisp.
3. Serve, garnished with finely chopped Parsley.
The Pasta will be a combination of textures: crunchy on the outside, and quite firm - almost leathery - within. The flavours of whatever the original sauce was will have concentrated in being re-heated, and overall you'll be left wondering whether in fact the leftovers version isn't actually better than it was first time round. This isn't an elegant dish, and wouldn't ever make it to a dinner-party menu - but, by God, it's delicious!