Leftover Pasta Frittata

This leftover pasta frittata makes terrific use of last night’s spaghetti leftovers—with sauce or without sauce—along with the easy additions of eggs and Parmesan cheese.

A cooked leftover pasta frittata on a round metal pan.

To create a leftover pasta frittata, start by warming last night’s puttanesca, pesto, primavera, or any other sauced pasta in a skillet with a couple tablespoons water. Or go with unsauced spaghetti for a crisper effect. Having the filling hot when it’s mixed with the eggs helps with the flipping step by sort of cooking the frittata from the inside and avoiding overbrowning the bottom before the center is set. To avoid unappealingly dry overfluff, I cook frittatas on the stovetop and never in the oven. It’s a little trickier, but it keeps the texture right and the flavor factor high.

[Editor’s Note: We know a lot of you are sorta scared of the dread frittata flip. And we can understand that. But we’re here to assure you that you can let that fear go. The directions in the leftover pasta frittata recipe below should see you through the moment with ease and perhaps even grace. As one of our recipe testers said, “It is a nervous minute or two when flipping the frittata, but it does become easier with practice, and it makes for a dramatic presentation if you happen to have an audience in the kitchen when you’re preparing it.” And if for some reason, despite your and our best efforts, the flip still flops, so what? Just nudge it back together as best you can, finish cooking it, plop it on some plates, and grab your forks. It may look like a jumble, but it’ll still taste spectacular.]–Cal Peternell

*Can I Use My Cast Iron Skillet For This Recipe?

Yes, Dorothy, you can use a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet in place of nonstick in most instances. Including here. The trick is that it really does need to be pretty slick from use. We’ve made this pasta frittata countless times in our cast iron skillet, though we have heard from folks who had a tricky time with the frittata releasing. You simply want to make certain the skillet has no rough patches and you may want to use just a smidgen more oil for effortless flipping and nonsticking.

Leftover Pasta Frittata

  • Quick Glance
  • (3)
  • 25 M
  • 25 M
  • Serves 4
5/5 - 3 reviews
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Ingredients


Directions

Crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk very well, until streaks no longer appear. Mix in the cheese, oil, salt, and a grind of pepper.

If you have sauced spaghetti, whether puttanesca or pesto or something else, dump it in a large nonstick skillet* over medium-high heat along with a couple tablespoons water and heat until it’s warm but before it starts to sizzle. Drain off any water that hasn’t evaporated and turn the spaghetti into the egg mixture. Wipe out the skillet, return it to medium-low heat, and add enough oil or butter to slick the bottom and sides of the skillet. Add the egg mixture, distributing the spaghetti evenly if it clumps.

If you have plain unsauced spaghetti, heat a couple tablespoons oil or butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium or medium-high heat. Add the spaghetti. (The easiest way to cook the unsauced spaghetti begins when you stash the leftovers in the fridge. Best to place the tangle of spaghetti on a dinner plate. The nest of pasta strands will be too firm to budge when cold, so just slide the entire frisbee-like chunk of spaghetti into the skillet.) Let it get crisp and browned on the bottom, pressing down once or twice on the spaghetti with a spatula. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the egg mixture.

Turn the heat to low and occasionally rotate the skillet a quarter turn if the egg seems to be cooking unevenly around the edges. When the perimeter of the frittata looks set and the center is still somewhat liquid, which should be after about 8 minutes, run a table knife around the skillet to loosen the sides of the frittata and carefully slip a thin metal spatula under it to loosen the underside. Invert a plate over the skillet and place one hand over the plate and the other hand on the skillet handle. Here comes the exciting part—you’re going to flip the frittata onto the plate. (We admit that it can end in disaster, but you have to stay confident and strong.) You don’t want the frittata to slide onto the plate or fold over, so the motion should be up and over, not just over, and it has to happen kind of quickly. Alley-oop, and it’s on the plate and the skillet is clean. Set the plate down and quickly slick the skillet with a little more oil or butter. Then, with the help of the spatula, encourage the frittata to slide back in. Don’t worry if things are looking a little Humpty Dumpty—just fit it all back together again and keep it over low heat until it’s cooked through, about 7 more minutes.

When the frittata seems to be cooked through, make a crack in the middle with the tip of the spatula and sneak a peek to see that the egg is all set. When it’s ready, slide or flip the frittata onto a plate. The good news is that there are a couple sides to every frittata—so if you like the looks of the top side, slide the frittata out the way you slid it in. If you like the looks of the other side better, flip it out onto a clean plate and show that one. Let cool a little or a lot, slice in wedges or squares or long skinny strips, and serve. (A frittata tastes good hot, better after it has cooled a half hour or so, and possibly best after it has had a chance to regroup on the countertop for an afternoon.) Originally published March 16, 2015.

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    Tuxedo Variation

    • Herbed Frittata

    • Tux variation

      Omit the spaghetti. Whisk chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, basil, chives, mint, or tarragon, into the egg mixture along with the cheese, oil, salt, and pepper. Alternatively, boiled green vegetables, such as green beans or sweet peas or asparagus cut into 1-inch pieces, work well when added to the eggs once in the skillet. Or add little bits of ricotta or goat cheese, which should be dabbed into the eggs once they’re in the skillet. But everyone’s favorite at our house is the original leftover pasta frittata.

    Recipe Testers' Reviews

    Remember that part in The Breakfast Club, when Claire pulls out her perfectly appointed sushi lunch and Bender gives her a hard time about it? That’s exactly what happened when I slid this frittata onto a cutting board. I had used roughly half a batch of Spaghetti all’Amatriciana, so it had a funny pinkish tint to it. Plus being an odd juxtaposition of breakfast and dinner probably didn’t help matters much. But it was delicious!

    I was worried about this recipe since it doesn’t call for an exact amount of spaghetti, but now I see that it really doesn’t matter. It just works! I omitted the salt and pepper since my leftovers were already well seasoned. My frittata served 4 since I used quite a bit of pasta, but yield may vary depending on how much leftover pasta you’ve got. Mine was rather ugly since flipping the frittata wasn’t so easy. I used a large nonstick skillet, which I didn’t realize was so heavy when it was full! It would have been much easier to bake the frittata, but cooking it on the stovetop did yield a fluffy, flavorful result.

    I think that this frittata is probably my favorite egg dish next to simple soft-boiled eggs. There’s something elegant about the melding of all the ingredients and the dramatic flipping of the dish that speaks to me. In truth, it's a simple dish that's easy to prepare and delicious for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

    I used fresh spinach, pecorino romano cheese, and a few scallions sliced very finely. As the pan heated with a little olive oil and butter, I washed and chopped the spinach, including the stems, before adding it to the pan. When the spinach had wilted, I added a few grates of nutmeg, some salt and pepper, and some of the sliced scallions and stirred before adding the egg and cheese mixture. It is a nervous minute or two when flipping the frittata, but it does become easier with practice, and it makes for a dramatic presentation if you happen to have an audience in the kitchen when you're preparing it. I added another pat of butter to the pan and slid the frittata back into the pan.

    I found that this recipe served 2 as a light dinner with a salad, garnished with the remaining sliced scallion. This left 2 servings for lunch the next day, and the frittata was just as good as the first day. I did make this recipe a second time later in the week and used chopped mushrooms, crumbled bacon, Cheddar, and chives in the filling. Definitely a recipe for everyone’s repertoire.

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    Comments

    1. An alternate flip method is to slide the crisp-on-the-bottom frittata from the fry pan onto a cutting board, flattish plate, or pizza pan. Center the fry pan bottom side up over the uncooked side of the pie. Hold fry pan and board/plate together and flip. Place back on the burner and continue to cook the second side.

    2. If you are not a good “flipper,” place a large plate or pizza pan over the pan, flip the frittata onto the plate or pizza pan & slide it back into the fry pan…no worries.

    3. I remember my mother “flipping” spanish tortillas when I was a child (she was from Spain). She had great technique and control and always seemed to get the gooey potato egg flipped beautifully and back into the skillet. Me… not so successful. I recent saw an alternative technique on Test Kitchen that is easier and yields excellent results. You make sure the tortilla, or fritatta in this case, is well separated from the skillet. Shake the skillet to make sure the tortilla is not attached and then you SLIP it onto a plate. Take a second plate, cover the tortilla/fritatta (now you have a plate sandwich), and just flip the plates. Then, SLIP the tortilla / fritatta back into the pan. You still have to deal with getting all the wet gooey ingredients neatly into the skillet, but the flipping step is much simplified. I hope that helps!

      1. Mary, I love the vision of your mom that you conjure! And yes, I completely agree, I’ve tried the method you describe and have had success with that technique. Greatly appreciate you helping make the recipe even more approachable for all of us.

    4. I’m always looking for quick delicious meals when I come home from work. Some nights I just don’t have the energy to make real food.

      We had bucatini last night and glory be, I have some leftover pasta and the makings for a nice salad.

      I can’t wait to make this tonight.

        1. I had some pancetta that needed to be used up and decided to add some to the basic recipe and omit the additional salt.

          It was wonderful! Thanks so much for the idea.

          1. That sounds inspired, bkhuna! Just added it to my list of things to try. Many, many thanks for sharing your idea. We love when recipes get tweaked to suit your pantry and your cravings.

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