Yes, Marcus Samuelsson is a James Beard award-winning chef with a successful Manhattan restaurant and recurring TV gigs on shows like Chopped and The Taste. He was also the youngest chef ever, at 24, to receive three stars from the New York Times, which means he knows how to cook seriously high-end, fancy food.
His new cookbook isn’t about fancy food, though. Marcus Off Duty is a guide to straightforward but delicious home cooking. “Home cooking is now where many of my restaurant dishes start,” Samuelsson wrote in the book’s intro. “I ask my cooks what they make at home and how they make it.” The recipes are all about using familiar ingredients in creative ways.
Samuelsson is especially adamant about using leftovers to create new (often even more delicious) dishes the next day. He did just that when he came to the BuzzFeed test kitchen recently to cook a dish for our new BuzzFeed Breakfast series, whipping up a frittata with leftover spaghetti and an impromptu skillet of eggs cooked in leftover tomato sauce. “Cooking for me is like jazz,” he wrote in his book. “You start with a solid base and add riffs and beats as you feel the need.” The recipe shown below is just that — a base. Once you understand the basic steps, you can use them as a framework to turn any combination of leftover pasta, meat and sauce into a hearty breakfast the next morning.
1. The first step in making a leftover pasta frittata is figuring out what kind of leftovers you’re working with. Here’s what we had:
Two kinds of spaghetti, tomato sauce, Parmesan cheese, spinach, and some cornbread. In the fridge we also had garlic, thyme, eggs, milk, sour cream, and some cooked bacon.
2. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large nonstick skillet along with two halved cloves of garlic and two sprigs of thyme. When the oil is hot but not sizzling, add about 2 cups of spinach.
3. Season liberally with salt and pepper.
4. Toss everything together, then cook the spinach over medium-low until it’s completely wilted.
“Pay attention to how you use your stove. I use the front right burner for the hottest stuff, when I’m searing or sautéing and using the handle of the pan; you might use the other front burner if you’re left-handed. Keep the slow stuff on the back burners.”
Basically, keep hotter, fast-cooking things at the front of your stove so that you have easy access and can toss or stir them often without having to move things around.
5. Beat the eggs in a large mixing bowl* with a whisk.
Chef used a dutch oven instead of a mixing bowl because it was sitting right there and was the perfect size.
6. Add olive oil, milk, sour cream, and Parmesan to the beaten eggs.
7. Whisk to combine everything.
8. Add the cooked spinach, pasta, tomato sauce, and cooked bacon.
Any cooked meat will work for this recipe if you don’t have bacon. Leftover braised meat is the most delicious option (chef recommended oxtail, but lamb or pork are great, too) since the flavors intensify as it sits in your fridge overnight. Just chop or shred it into bite-sized pieces and toss it in.
9. Toss everything together until the spaghetti is evenly coated with the egg mixture.
Tongs are great for tossing noodles.
10. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in the large nonstick, ovenproof skillet, then add the spaghetti mixture.
(It might be easiest to just pour it in.)
11. Shake the pan so that the pasta levels out. Put the skillet over medium heat and cook until the frittata firms on the bottom, about 3 minutes.
12. Thinly slice the garlic halves and pick the sprigs of thyme, then sprinkle them over the frittata.
Chef saved some of the cooked spinach to use in the tomato-poached eggs later, but you can put it all in the frittata.
Add more cheese if you feel like it. Remember, this recipe is really just a guideline.
13. Slide the skillet into the oven and bake until the frittata is lightly browned on top, about 15 minutes.
It’s ready when it’s light brown and bubbling a little around the edges.
14. Take the skillet out of the oven and use a spatula to free the frittata from the edges of the skillet.
15. Place a heatproof plate or cutting board that’s bigger than the skillet on top of the frittata, then flip the skillet so that the frittata falls out onto the plate.
16. Place the empty skillet on a burner over medium heat, then gently slide the frittata back into the skillet, flipped. Cook until the underside starts to brown slightly around the edges, about 3 minutes.
17. Return the frittata to the oven and cook until the frittata is golden and puffed, about 5-8 minutes more.
While the frittata finished cooking, chef used additional leftover tomato sauce to cook some eggs. Here’s how: Coat a large skillet with a thin layer of olive oil, then add about a cup of tomato sauce.
Add 4 eggs, and cook over medium heat until the whites are cooked but the yolks are still runny.
Garnish with whatever leftovers you have. Chef used cooked spinach and some cubes of cornbread.
18. The frittata is done when it’s browned and puffed. Also, it shouldn’t jiggle when you shake it in the pan.
19. Let the frittata cool for a couple of minutes, then flip it out onto a plate and slide it onto a cutting board.
Leftovers + Eggs = Breakfast!
20. To serve, slice the frittata, and serve each slice with a tomato-y egg.
Leftover Spaghetti Frittata
Recipe by Marcus Samuelsson, adapted from Marcus Off Duty
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 garlic cloves, halved
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 cup fresh spinach, packed
6 large eggs
2 cups leftover cooked spaghetti (or any leftover pasta)
4 slices cooked bacon, cut in 1/2-inch slices
1/2 cup leftover tomato sauce
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick, ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the halved cloves of garlic, thyme, and spinach. Season with salt and pepper, toss everything together, and cook over medium-low heat until the spinach is completely wilted, 1-2 minutes. Transfer the cooked spinach to a plate, picking out the garlic and thyme and setting it aside.
3. In a large mixing bowl, vigorously beat the eggs. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, milk, sour cream, and Parmesan, and whisk to combine. Add the pasta, bacon, tomato sauce, and cooked spinach, and stir until the pasta is evenly coated.
4. Heat the remaining tablespoon olive oil in the nonstick skillet over medium heat. Pour the pasta mix into the pan. Shake the pan so that the pasta levels out. Put the skillet over medium heat and cook until the frittata firms on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Chop the garlic and pick the thyme leaves from the sprigs of thyme, scatter on top of the frittata, and slide the skillet into the oven. Bake until the frittata is lightly browned on top, about 15 minutes.
5. Take the skillet out of the oven and use a spatula to free the frittata from edges of the skillet. Place a heatproof plate or cutting board that’s bigger than the skillet on top of the frittata. Flip the skillet, keeping the plate pressed tightly against it, so that the frittata falls out onto the plate. Place the empty skillet on a burner over medium heat, then gently slide the frittata back into the skillet, flipped. Cook until the underside starts to brown slightly around the edges, about 3 minutes. Return the frittata to the oven and cook until the frittata is golden and puffed, about 5-8 minutes more.
6. Let the frittata cool slightly in the skillet, about 5 minutes. Slice and serve hot, or at room temperature.