Pasta pie

(Sheryl Julian)
September 2, 2009

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Serves 6

What remains in the pasta pot - a few cups of penne, perhaps, in a little tomato sauce - could be lunch for tomorrow or even a midnight snack. But the mixture also makes a fine pie. Add fontina or Monterey Jack, spread it in a pie pan, tip half a dozen eggs into the mixture, and it bakes into a beautiful cheesy cake, ready to cut into wedges. Egg pies in the Italian kitchen are called frittatas, and when there’s pasta left from dinner (long strands of spaghetti, squares of lasagna, even something in a meaty sauce), the noodles are turned into supper for another day. To make a generous 9-inch pie, you need 4 cups of cooked pasta and a scant 2 cups of sauce. Start from scratch, as we do here, or use what you have. This is farmhouse fare, which perfectly suits today’s families looking for budget-minded meals.

Salt and black pepper, to taste
2 cups uncooked penne
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
3 tomatoes, cored and cut into 1-inch dice
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Olive oil (for sprinkling)
8 ounces fontina or Monterey Jack cheese
6 eggs, lightly beaten
1. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the penne and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes or until the pasta is not quite cooked through. Drain into a colander. Tip the penne into a large bowl.

2. Meanwhile, in a skillet, heat the oil and when it is hot, add the garlic. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and red pepper. Cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes or until the mixture is saucy. Add the sauce to the pasta and stir well. Set aside to cool.

3. Set the oven at 375 degrees. Lightly oil a deep 9-inch pie pan.

4. Cut the cheese in half. Cut one piece into 1/4-inch cubes. Grate the other piece.

5. Stir the cubes of cheese into the pasta mixture with plenty of salt and pepper. Tip the pasta into the pie pan. Pour in the eggs. Cover the top with the shredded cheese.

6. Bake the pie for 35 minutes or until the top is brown and the pie is set in the middle. Cool slightly before cutting into wedges. Sheryl Julian