The more I learn about southern Italian cuisine the bigger the differences I see between that and northern cuisine. And, to be honest, nothing surprises me. I was recently taught this recipe by a good friend of mine from Naples and it’s already become one of my go-to favourites. As the name suggests―maccheroni in Italian is used to refer to pasta in general rather than a specific kind―this can me made with any type of pasta. In fact, it’s often used as a way of using up leftovers. I already knew that you could make delicious arancini with leftover risotto to avoid re-heating (and therefore overcooking and ruining) the rice. But this recipe is the same with pasta. Alternatively, as with this recipe, you can cook the pasta specially and just enjoy eating the dish for its own sake.
The method itself is very simple. Take your leftover, or pre-cooked pasta, and coat it in a mixture of eggs and cheese. Add any other ingredients to the mix and then fry for 15 minutes on each side. Depending on the size of your pan, it can be quite an effort to turn it over—and messy, because there will still be some residual oil in the pan. My friend told me that if you have a small pan you could make little individual ones which is also an attractive way to serve it. Make sure you use plenty of oil since you want the pasta to go nice and crispy. He often burns his a little since that way people won’t mind him eating the crispy bit all to himself!
The frittata di maccheroni is delicious hot but can also be served cold. My friend told me that in the summer people often cook it and then take cold slices to eat for lunch at the beach. If only I’d known about it before the autumn started! You can also cut it into cubes, pierce with cocktail sticks, and serve it as finger food for an aperitivo or party. The possibilities are endless.
If you don’t like the idea of frying then you can make it in the oven. It’s delicious if you layer the pasta and then alternate with provolone cheese and salami (or fillings of your choice). 180°C (355°F) for half an hour should do the trick. You might want to place it under a hot grill for a couple of minutes to brown the top even more.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy this campanian classic. Something tells me that there will be a lot more southern Italian food gracing this blog very soon.
Frittata di maccheroni
Preparation time: 20 mins
Cooking time: 30 mins
Total time: 50 mins
500g (1 pound) vermicelli pasta
75g (2 1/2 ounces) grated parmigiano reggiano
1/2 teaspoon salt
pepper, to taste
200g (1/2 pound) salami
oil for frying
- Cook the vermicelli in plenty of salted water until al dente, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When they are cooked, drain with a colander and rinse immediately with cold water to stop them cooking. Transfer to a bowl and coat with a small amount of olive oil to stop them sticking and reserve.
- In a large bowl, beat the eggs until frothy. Then add the grated parmesan cheese and combine. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the pasta to the bowl and mix until it is completely coated with the egg and cheese mixture.
- Chop the salami into cubes of about 1/2 centimeter and then mix through the pasta.
- Heat a small amount of oil in a non-stick frying pan. To test the temperature, drop a small piece of vermicelli into the oil. If it sizzles, then the pan is the right temperature.
- Add the pasta to the pan. Using a fork, go around the edge and make into a nice regular round shape. Cook over a medium heat until the underside of the frittata is golden brown, about 15 minutes.
- Place a large plate over the pan and gently invert the pan to turn the frittata out. Be careful not to make a mess with the oil from the pan. Then, add a touch more oil and gently slide the frittata back into the pan and cook until the other side is golden brown, about 15 minutes.
- Turn out onto a plate and allow to cool briefly and then serve in slices, hot or cold.