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!


aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Jamie Oliver - who, I suspect, is complete anathema to you! - has a recipe for fritelle di spaghetti in his book 'Jamie's Italy'. Just as you describe - cooked spaghetti, fried until golden. Delish!

Pomiane said...

Glad to hear the recipe's out there...Although googling 'fritelle di spaghetti' produced a rather more complicated version than mine, where the cooked pasta is made into balls or discs before frying. Same splendid end-result though, I'm sure!

Complete anathema? No - I don't really know much about him, truth to tell; but I wouldn't say the little I do know particularly inspires me.
Your comment has given sufficient pause for thought, though, that it's worthy of a post (in the next few days)rather than merely a comment here...

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Interesting. Jamie's version is a simple version, too - no messing about with balls or discs.

As for a post - yes, please!

kashianinks said...

Dear Pomiane,

It is with surprise and joy that I finally encountered another adept of the Fried Pasta Secret Society.

I came across this recipe only once, while I was an adolescent in Italy.
A rather attractive Sicilian sociologist called Mariella who was a friend of my mum, described to us northern Italians the secret of the Fried Pasta. It was the seventies, my family was into macrobiotics (for a short fashionable spell) and therefore we were shocked at the idea of such frying concoction. Nevertheless i never forgot that recipe and now that i live in London on my own and am allowed to fry whatever I want I sincerely rejoice this little knowledge.

Pomiane said...

Aha! So it IS Sicilian in origin! I did ask Dario about this, who is as Sicilian as they come, and he merely looked rather bemused - but then his mind does tend to be exclusively focused on mummies, I suppose, and so he wasn't perhaps the best person to have asked about this sort of thing...

Anonymous said...

My grandmother used to make this all the time. I love it! I make it whenever there are any pasta leftovers! It is my FAVORITE way to eat pasta! What a treat!

Anonymous said...

I've been frying my leftover pasta for a few years now. I completely agree that it's delicious.
My variation is that the original pasta was unseasoned and not in a sauce. I then simply fry some garlic in olive oil and then just add the pasta and some salt. Simple but delicious!!!

Anonymous said...

I'm a member of the Fried Pasta Secret Society too!
My Great-Grandmother, an Aiello from Sicily, taught my mother this technique. We like it so much that sometimes we make pasta just for frying. Our preferred method is plain, chilled pasta in a pan with olive oil. Once one side is all crispy and fried, we flip it so that the other side can fry and we put slices of fresh mozzarella on it that get all delicious and melted. We most often use spaghetti, because that's what we usually have and I find it crisps up pretty well. Ours comes out disc shaped but only because the pan is round and it fries better flat.
I totally agree, it is the best meal ever!

inwiththenews said...

This actually reminds me of a German dish I had in Berlin recently, at a small cafe near the Staatsbibliothek Berlin.

We didn't know what to order from the short, all-German menu, so I just picked something at random, and was served a fried spaghetti dish with smoked ham, a mild cheese and garlic.

Probably blocked up my heart beyond repair, but it was delicious. I'm going to try and do something similar tonight with pancetta and stronger cheese...

Anonymous said...

You can also bake leftover pasta.

My mother used to make her version of pastichio using leftover spaghetti bolognese... she'd make twice as much pasta as we needed just so that she could make the pastichio the day after!