Lately, I’ve been exploring ideas for one-pot-wonders. This has rekindled my love of pasta, and resulted in an abundance of shapes filling our cupboards, from rigatoni to rotelle. This wealth of pasta led to my discovery of pasta mista, a thrifty Italian secret that involves cooking with a variety of pasta shapes, making the likes of minestrone, lasagne and frittata even more economical.
Pasta mista originated in Naples, where some grocery stores still sell pasta in bulk today. Odds and ends are combined and sold for a good price, usually including a mix of five or more pasta types. To make your own, simply collect all your pasta odds and ends in a large jar until you have enough to make a meal. Part of the joy of pasta mista is the range of textures that occur due to the varying sizes. However, it is a good rule of thumb to combine similar-sized pastas and avoid super-chunky varieties such as pici and pappardelle; longer pasta shapes – spaghetti, linguine and tagliatelle, say – can be broken up into similar lengths to the other pasta.
Cook pasta mista just as you would regular pasta, but drain it when around two-thirds of the pieces are cooked through – this way, you will end up with an interesting range of bites, from al dente to silky-smooth to soft.
Pasta mista frittata
Eggs and pasta combined is one of the most economical and comforting of foods; stodgy, rich and filling. This frittata is a super-simple recipe, suitable for the whole family, that can be served hot or cold. If you want to boost the flavours, add an assortment of toppings just before serving – try sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, olives, pesto, mozzarella, carrot tops or chopped herbs. It’s also a great way to use up leftover cooked pasta.
100g mixed pasta shapes per portion
2 eggs per portion
Parmesan, to taste
2 tbsp olive oil
Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until cooked to your liking – remember, the different shapes will cook at different speeds, but it’s nice to have a range of textures in the finished dish.
Beat the eggs in a bowl, then stir in the cooked pasta and season with salt, pepper and grated parmesan to taste. Pour into a hot, ovenproof frying pan greased with the olive oil, swirl the mix around the pan to even out, then turn the heat down low and leave to fry gently for five minutes. Transfer the pan to a hot oven – 210C (190C fan) – for a further five minutes, then tip put on to a plate and serve hot or at room temperature, just as it is or scattered with your toppings of choice.