Friday, March 07, 2008

Macaroni Pie

Last night's dinner was a bit of a dud with the best intentions: I decided to finally use some dried pasta and porcini mushrooms my mom brought me back from Italy a few months ago, but to rather poor effect. The sauce I made--from garlic, olive oil and canned tomatoes--wasn't rich enough for the mushrooms, and adding cream helped only slightly. I was truly bummed over handling such fine ingredients so poorly, and moped around all night until Fork got the brilliant idea that I should make a batch of Blondies. It helped a little.

But tonight I was determined to make something good out of the leftovers. I'd saved about half the pasta--"stringozzi" that was thicker than spaghetti and had a delightful chewiness to it--and did not sauce it, just drizzled it with olive oil to prevent it from clumping. My idea this evening was to make macaroni pie, something I'd never made before but that I know various family members adore.

I went with Giada De Laurentiis's recipe for Pizza di Spaghetti. She has you dress cooked spaghetti with olives and tomato sauce; I skipped the olives and made a batch of my mom's sauce, and mixed it in with the pasta. In a bowl, you combine eggs, milk and grated Parmesan with a little salt and pepper, and then you add your sauced pasta to that mixture. You grease a non-stick skillet with a good amount of olive oil, then pour the pasta-egg mixture in, pressing it down into the pan. After eight or so minutes you very carefully flip it onto a plate and slide it back into the pan so the other side can cook, a maneuver not unlike Spanish Laura's technique when making tortilla espanola. Another six minutes and it's ready to eat.

This was the delicious meal I'd wanted last night. The crispy exterior gave way to the soft and chewy pasta inside, and the overall taste of the dish was richer, more flavorful and pulled-together than simple pasta with tomato sauce, thanks to the binding powers of egg, milk and cheese. I am so relieved my mother didn't schlepp that pasta home from Umbria for nothing.--S

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