Pasta fritta is the proof that sometimes leftovers are better than the original dish. Next time you cook pasta, boil more than you need.
This recipe shouldn't really require a list of ingredients as the truly essential are two: cold pasta and fat of some description. Anything can be added to enhance and flavour it, usually depending on what the contents of your fridge hide. Or, after a minimalist fashion, just salt and pepper will do.
Always cook too much pasta?
Refried pasta or pasta fritta is the most joyous side effect of not knowing how much pasta to cook. You pour your farfalle or macaroni out of the pack and it kind of disappears in the pan full of water. That can’t be right! It won’t feed a kitten!
So you shake in a bit more, a bit more… ooops, the whole packet’s gone in. Drained, it looks fit to sink a fleet and you have sauce enough to dress about a third of it.
Save the surplus
Not to worry – I never do. Sometimes my hand shakes surreptitiously on purpose because the surplus will make possibly an even better dish on the next day or a couple of days later. Don’t rinse that drained pasta or drizzle with oil or, contrary to expectations, it will stick to a lump.
But even if that should happen it’s all right, because pasta fritta is basically a pasta omelette. A little oil, butter or both, hot skillet e voilà! Pressed and compacted into the hot fat, it needs to crisp up underneath before the precarious flipping exercise.
How to flip pasta fritta omelette
It's one of those exercises that look dead easy on YouTube. Once your pasta fritta has fritta-ed underneath, it needs to be turned over to cook on the other side. You can cleverly avoid it by sticking the skillet under the grill, but then it will become pasta grigliata instead of fritta.
The purists' approach is thus: cover the skillet with a large plate, turn it over so the pasta lands cooked side up, then slip it back into the pan.
I do do that when fritting my pasta but invariably find my arms could do with a 360 degree turning joint. The good thing is, you can easily push and press the pasta back together in the pan even if it slightly fell apart on its pan-plate-pan journey.
Pasta fritta variations
If you add beaten eggs to the cold pasta it will help bind it but will also turn into pasta frittata. If cooking from scratch, you can add pea sized vegetables to the pasta boiling pan and cook with pasta.
You can also stuff it with prosciutto and cheese: in the skillet, layer half the pasta, arrange cheese and ham slices then top with the rest of the pasta. Press it all very well, compact it into a pancake and take very good care when flipping - this variety is even more flipping averse.