Use Up Last Night's Leftover Pasta In This Morning's Frittata

If you're the kind of cook who regularly overestimates the amount of pasta needed for a meal, you'll be happy to learn there's a solution to being stuck between eating cold spaghetti or reheated pasta mush the next day for lunch — a method for using last night's leftover pasta that Italians have practiced for centuries, called frittata di pasta.

A spaghetti omelet of sorts, frittata di pasta comes in two variants: red (sauced noodles) and white (without sauce). This simple dish utilizes leftover pasta, most commonly spaghetti, fettuccine, bucatini, or vermicelli, and combines it with scrambled raw egg, any bits of ham or salami, cheese, and sliced tomatoes, peas, or anything else you might want to add. The mixture is then added to a small amount of hot oil in a waiting frying pan. Once crisp on the bottom, a plate is put over the pan and inverted, revealing a golden-browned crust. The pasta omelet is then slid back into the pan to fry the other side to the same golden-amber hue. The result is a crispy-on-the-outside, chewy, warm, gooey-on-the-inside sensation that will have you boiling extra noodles any time you make pasta, looking forward to this scrumptious breakfast treat.

What is frittata di pasta?

Known by many names, this delightful recipe is beloved by Italian and Italian-American families. It's become a viral favorite on social media, propelled by influencers like Italian cookbook author Nadia Munno (The Pasta Queen) and Italian-American cook Laura Vitale, host of the Cooking Channel's "Simply Laura." Both have praised the virtues of this frittata. In fact, the roots of this recipe, a Neopolitan tradition, run deep in the Campania region of Italy, evoking warm memories for many Italian families. While their versions of the dish vary, they share the common elements of the basic recipe and the settings where they typically enjoyed it (on picnics, at the beach, after sleepovers, etc.). The dish is so essential in Naples it's even served during the Easter holidays.

Sold as "spaghetti pizza" or "frittata di spaghetti" in Italy, this Italian street food is served in thick wedge slices, allowing you to carry and eat it — just like pizza. The cooking tradition, born from the resourcefulness of the peasant class in Naples, made use of any leftover food (including cold pasta) to avoid wastefulness. But the reason this simple, fridge-emptying recipe has endured goes beyond frugality and necessity — it's incredibly delicious and memorable.