The next time you find yourself with a neglected cup of macaroni or that last serving of spaghetti that no one seems to want, promise me you’ll try this. I’ve been making pasta frittatas ever since another Kitchn writer mentioned it years ago, and it is hands down my favorite way to use up leftover pasta—along with whatever else is hanging around in the fridge.
Most instructions for cooking dried pasta are invariably the same: Drop the noodles into a pot of boiling water, bring it back to a boil, and keep it bubbling vigorously until the pasta is done. We already broke with this conventional wisdom by showing that you can cook pasta in a lot less water than is typically called for, as long as you don’t mind stirring it frequently.
Now we’ve learned that you don’t need to hold your pasta water at a rolling boil either. In fact, you don’t even need to keep the pot on the heat. The pasta will cook just fine if you take the pot off the burner as soon as you add the pasta, cover it immediately, stir once or twice during the first minute, cover again, and leave it to sit for the recommended cooking time. We tested this method with spaghetti, shells, farfalle, and ziti, using the full 4 quarts of water recommended per pound, and we found that the texture was identical to that of pasta we boiled the conventional way.
They suggest garlic, red pepper, fresh herbs, grated parmesan or romano cheese, olive oil, onions, even cannellini beans if you want to make it a little heartier.
If you decide to add aromatics like garlic or dried herbs, simmer them in olive oil first and add some of the cooking liquid from the pasta. The starches in the cooking liquid will help mingle the flavours together. Just before you serve the pasta, toss in those extra ingredients.
Ahh, the pre-race pasta dinner. It’s not just an opportunity to bond with fellow athletes, it’s also the last remaining excuse to think of spaghetti as health food. Carb loading isn’t necessary for everyone, but if you’re one of the people who will benefit, it’s time to learn the right way to do it.
Since Allen Lim’s food science wizardry, even the Euro cycling pros are eating more rice than pasta these days. Don’t think I’m saying this being anti-gluten crazy, organic, artisanally harvested rice by cage free workers (humor, come on), but that exercise diets have changed a WHOLE LOT in the past seven years.
It’s very interesting to hear the 1.5 hr recommendation – that means a good portion of people doing sprint triathlons do not need to carb load. But everyone is different – I recently rode 140 KM with someone who had to consume gels/etc every hour or so, and they still had trouble after the 100 KM mark. They have less body fat than I do, but I also wonder what their carb intake is like. As always, see what works for you because we’re not all the same.