As a kid growing up in an Italian family, during Lent we ate ‘frugally’, avoiding meat (definitely on Friday’s) and rich foods. These days were called, giorni di scammaro. Now, I wasn’t quite sure if it was a ’religious’ thing, or a holdover from the tough years my grandparents had to endure in Italy before immigrating to the US in the early 1900’s.
A ‘tradition’ of those tough economic times – when wallets were empty and nothing would go to waste. And this is how, what I consider a delicacy, was born and became a traditional local dish – a bowl of leftover spaghetti became “frittat’e maccarun, or (leftover) pasta frittata.
Throwing away pasta, was sacrilege! Especially when it can be used to make up a delicious meal for the following day. In spite of its name, frittata di pasta is usually made with spaghetti, vermicelli or bucatini, that is, with pasta lunga, so that the final result is dense, soft inside and crunchy outside.
My Nonna would take the leftover pasta from the night before (the pasta must rest overnight) and slice up some zucchini (always plentiful in any Italian’s garden and my Nonno’s garden was no different), onions, garlic, chard or whatever other vegetables might be fresh from the yard (and even some leftover meat from the sauce . . . yes sauce, NOT gravy), mix it together with the pasta, some eggs, some cheese, some salt and pepper, fry it in a cast iron skillet until brown on the bottom and either flip it over (which is a skill), or place the skillet in the oven and broil until the top is brown. You can eat it warm but it always seems to taste better cold. I think as it rests the flavors mingle and intensify.
To this day when we have any leftover pasta, we look forward to the frittata the next morning (Now, I throw a bit more Pecorino Romano on top before putting it in the oven to get a nice cheesy, crunchy top – sorry Nonna, but I know you’d understand).
Amo mia nonna! Buona mangiata!
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Tony Moglia's grandparents immigrated from Italy in the early 1900's. He's a dual citizen who has traveled extensively throughout Italy for 40 years. He's happily married to a vibrant dancer who together have two children and three grandchildren. Tony has dreamed of Villas of Italy since his first trip to Italy, and now he shares his dream with you.