Here’s a way to sneak up on your next pasta binge from a different angle. Cooking the pasta for a second time in the oven gives you a bit of textural contrast from the lovely crisp edge bits, the soft inside stuffed with your weapons of choice. I’ve heard this recipe touted as a ‘good use for leftover pasta’ but really, who ever has 500g of leftover pasta? Perhaps an army chef.
What it is good for though, is using up the odds and sods in the fridge. I slung in some softened onions and garlic, black olives, jarred artichoke hearts, grilled bacon, most of a tub of ricotta and the juice and zest of two lemons. A waif end of cheese and stray stalk of parsley went on top. The secret to a good spaghetti cake is to keep it well oiled; they have a tendency to come out dry otherwise. As an alternative, try using a double cream and egg yolk mix stirred through the pasta – the end result will be denser and richer.
So there we have it, a way to make pasta even more unhealthy than it was before; where there’s a will there’s a way.
Sicilian Spaghetti Cake
1 large onion, finely chopped
5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
150g jarred artichoke hearts in oil (reserve the oil), chopped roughly
150g black olives, pitted and chopped roughly
250g ricotta cheese
A generous handful of parsley
The juice and zest of two lemons
6 rashers of bacon
Olive oil and plenty of it
A splash of white wine if you have it
Preheat your oven to 180C
Begin by cooking your spaghetti until almost al dente. While this is happening, grill the bacon until crisp then chop roughly and set aside.
Soften the onion and garlic gently in a little olive oil (then add the splash of wine if you have it allowing a minute or two to cook out), then add the artichoke hearts, olives and bacon to warm everything through. When your pasta is ready, stir through the oil from the jar of artichokes plus your artichoke mixture, the lemon juice and zest and a really generous seasoning of salt and pepper. Stir through the ricotta and most of the parsley. The mix will probably need another generous slug of oil at this point. Don’t be shy – that’s a lot of spaghetti.
Brush an oven proof skillet or similarly shaped pan with a little more oil or butter and pour in your spaghetti, flattening it down to a cake shape. Bake for about 30 minutes, until golden and crispy at the edges. Garnish with more parsley. Slice and serve warm, with salad for a bit of psychological self trickery.