Vermicelli pasta frittata from Basilicata.
Pasta frittata is a popular way to use up pasta leftovers in Italy. But, what does the word frittata mean? There is an Italian expression ‘hai fatto una frittata’ which more or less means you have made a mess (figuratively or literately!). Perhaps, the expression came into being when a frittata was merely a way to use up whatever leftovers were in the fridge and not actually considered a culinary delight!
However, the humble frittata or Italian omelette (as it is sometimes called ) has gone up in the world and can be found on many English language and Italian recipe sites and has even had articles written about it!
Fry or oven bake?
The word ‘frittata’ comes from the verb ‘friggere’ which means to fry. Nowadays, some chefs (like Jamie Oliver) advocate oven-cooking it for a healthier version. However, in Italy, it is always fried. Having said that, oven baking or grilling the top, instead of attempting to turn the frittata over, does help avoid messy accidents!
What is the difference between Italian frittata and French omelette?
Apart from the eggs, which of course are standard, there are many different ingredients used in Italian frittatas. The main differences between an Italian frittata and a French omelette are that the ingredients in the former are mixed into the eggs before cooking, rather than placed onto the eggs after they have already started cooking in the pan. Plus, a frittata is always circular in shape, thicker than an omelette and takes longer to cook.
The French also don’t put pasta in their omelette! The Italians do and pasta frittatas are very popular and traditional throughout Italy. Whether as a result of frugality or necessity, the pasta frittata was most definitely born out of a desire to use up leftover pasta. Long pasta such as spaghetti, vermicelli, bavette etc. is the most common type used in a pasta frittata. Italians use both leftover plain pasta and leftover pasta already mixed with a sauce to make a pasta frittata.
Traditional pasta frittata recipes.
There are a number of traditional recipes from different regions for pasta frittata, especially in Southern Italy, like this one for frittata di vermicelli di Basilicata. However, pasta frittata is a versatile dish that can include almost anything you have in the fridge, as long as it goes with eggs!
Of course, you don’t need to have leftovers to make a pasta frittata. Nowadays, many people just choose to make it from scratch. Some also deliberately cook extra the day before in order to make a frittata the following day. Italians aren’t big breakfast eaters and what breakfast they do eat is normally sweet. So, frittata with or without pasta is not a typical breakfast choice here. It’s a quick light meal or snack.
This recipe from Basilicata has only a few ingredients but it’s very tasty. You may find the idea of anchovies in it strange, but I have to say they give it a great depth of flavour. To my mind, it tastes like pasta ‘aglio, olio peperoncino‘ (yes it contains peperoncino!). So, if you like that pasta recipe you must give this one a try!
If you make this recipe I’d love to hear how it turns out and if you liked it. Please leave a comment here on the blog or on The Pasta Project Facebook page. Looking forward to hearing from you.
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Vermicelli Frittata from Basilicata
- 250 g Vermicelli pasta cooked or uncooked
- 8 eggs 2 per person
- 2 garlic cloves peeled and chopped
- 4-6 anchovy fillets (salted or in oil) chopped
- 1-2 teaspoons peperoncino flakes
- 1 handful fresh parsley chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- olive oil. extra virigin
- If you are using uncooked pasta, cook the pasta al dente in plenty of salted boiling water according to the instructions on the packet. Drain it and allow it to cool.
- Fry the chopped anchovies, peperoncino flakes and chopped garlic in extra virgin olive oil until the garlic starts to soften and the anchovies begin to melt. Don’t let the garlic brown.
- Add the garlic mixture to the cold pasta, along with the eggs and parsley, some salt and pepper. Mix everything together well.
- Pour the mixture into a large non-stick frying pan and fry, turn the frittata to cook the other side. Both sides should be nicely browned and slightly crispy.
- Serve immediately cut into slices with a sprinkling of parsley.