Monday, February 20, 2012

Spaghetti Carbonara Muffins


I made plans - very good plans. For Carnevale weekend I was going to make a tortellini pie - the sort of dish made in the Renaissance. The kind of sumptuous pie that would take three days to make. I even knew what music I would be listening to as I as I made ragu, meatballs, pastry, etc. I just never look at any dates. And when I realized on Sunday - that I was halfway done with Carnevale weekend, I knew the tortellini pie wasn't happening.

I also was sated from an evening out at The Birchwood Cafe which culminated in my consuming a Tres Leches Raspberry Cake which left me sure I would not need to eat until Eater Sunday. And made me grateful that I did not have a tortellini pie to assemble.



But as Sunday wore on, I did get hungry. And I started browsing blogs. Looking for small pick-me-ups. The requirements were: every ingredient needed to be in the house. Even better - the ingredients needed to fit the odds and ends of my food-stuff.

And then I saw the Spaghetti Fritattas on Marie's Proud Italian Cook blog. I had bookmarked that recipe over a year-and-a-half-ago. Just as with the tortellini pie, I was running a little late. Marie made these baby fritattas with spaghetti, mozzarella, provolone, Parmesan and fresh basil. I had the spaghetti, Parmesan and provolone. Looking good. Marie mentioned that she saw them on Foodalogue's blog - so I went there. Joan's recipe also had bacon and peas. I had 3 pieces of a bacon to use up as well as an open bag of frozen peas.  Looking better and better.


Marie and Joan both baked them in mini-muffin tins. I've been meaning to buy a mini-muffin tin - for about twenty years. As expected, I did them in a regular tin - but I am thinking I may finally buy a mini-muffin tin - love two-bite appetizers. And am enchanted with the possibilities:

- leave out the bacon (or go whole Italian hog with pancetta, prosciutto, salami)
- make a primavera 'spaghetti fritatta' with asparagus and spring mushrooms
- make a summer fritatta with zucchini, tomatoes, eggplants
- play with onion and garlic, scallions and chives...

Imagine just sauteing mushrooms - until small, dark and woodsy and then letting them crunch up a bit while baking....


The melty-cheese, crispy bacon, egg-coated spaghetti that went into the muffin tins reminded me of a carbonara. I used fewer eggs than Marie and Joan - I didn't really want a fritatta - I just wanted the egg to hold everything together. Next time - I will try doing this with only one egg.

I put a dab of marinara sauce on them - but they didn't need it. You could also play with a dollop of pesto on them - especially if you're already incorporating basil and Parmesan. I wonder how they would do with a few toasted chopped nuts?

Spaghetti Carbonara Appetizers - makes 12 in a regular muffin tin
1/3-1/2 pound spaghetti - broken into fourths
3 slices of bacon - cooked and crumbled
2/3 cup frozen peas - cooked
1-2 slices of garlic - minced
1/4 cup freshly shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/4 cup provolone (I used some lovely aged provolone for a sharper taste)
1/4 cup Fontina cheese
2 eggs, beaten (as I said I think this work with one egg)
salt and pepper to taste

*Optional: Marinara sauce, pesto

*These are approximate measurements - this isn't a wedding cake - it's a spaghetti mixture in a muffin tin! Feel free to add or subtract ingredients - just make sure it doesn't overwhelm the spaghetti!



Spaghetti Carbonara Appetizer Preparation
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a muffin tin. Cook your spaghetti al dente. In a small frying pan, cook your bacon until crisp. Drain bacon. Pour out almost all of the oil. Then add your peas and garlic and cook - stirring - for about 1 minute.*

*Or to reduce the fat - cook peas separately and add the garlic to the bacon in the last minute of cooking. If not using bacon, briefly saute the garlic. Or mix the chopped garlic into the mixture and let it cook in the oven.  Whatever works for you - this is not world peace, it's spaghetti-muffins.

In a large bowl, mix the cheeses together. Crumble the bacon and add it to the cheeses. Add the peas and garlic and mix. Add your spaghetti and mix well. Add the beaten eggs and carefully stir to make sure the egg coats all the spaghetti strands. Salt and pepper to taste. (I barely salted - the Parmesan takes care of that - I was generous with the pepper.) Divide mixture evenly into the muffin tins. Bake for about 20 minutes. You'd like the end of the spaghetti strands to be a wee bit browned and delicately crunchy and the egg will settle on the bottom - and be somewhat fritatta-like. Serve warm or at room temperature. (I can see how many dozens of these in a mini-muffin tin would be great for a buffet).  


No, it's not the spectacular Tortellini Pie worthy of a Medici. It's sort of silliness and fun - spaghetti strands pointing each and every way. Beckoning you into their secret stash of creamy cheeses and a hint of garlic. It's a party tease worthy of Carnevale and Mardi Gras. The celebration before the last 40 days or so of winter. A delectable treat before the days of tulips arrive.

And the true wonder of this is - I always have a splashing of these ingredients in the house. If Uptown-son says he's coming over, I can whip them up. If Husband-on-diet is desperate for a carb, I can make these. And if a crowd of 40 people are descending upon my home for a holiday dinner - these are worthy. It's uptown-downtown, city-country, plain and fancy.

Do check out Marie's version here: Proud Italian Cook
And Joan's version here: Foodalogue

52 comments:

Tina said...

These are probably the most unique appetizers I have ever seen! Love the fact that they are little pasta twirls. So many appetizers now days are fried and not that much in the way of italian food. This recipe is definitely a keeper! Also, it looks fairly easy to make. Thanks for this one Claudia!

Cucina49 said...

Claudia, I'm bookmarking these to make. Love the variations on them--and I'm intrigued by the tortellini pie. Looking forward to seeing that!

Frank said...

This is a dangerous idea for an appetizer. I'd fill up on these and have no room left for dinner!

Mona Thompson Providence Ltd. said...

Are you kidding?...These sound absolutely delicious. I'm having 3 couples over on Saturday for dinner...I am definitely making these. It's making me think that I might do several hearty appetizers like this with wines...and forget dinner. any ideas? Thanks for your comment today. I'm sooo glad that I found your blog. Mona

Suzi said...

These are some seriously cool appetizers. Absolutely fabulous.

Pegasuslegend said...

Fabulous! I knew as soon as I saw this on Facebook I was going to be hooked before I saw the recipe... omg brilliance! love these! Can you just take a vacation in Florida just to have the two Claudia's in the kitchen together, awesome recipe~

Sue/the view from great island said...

I could make a dinner of these, for sure, they look like delicious little bird's nests.

Treat and Trick said...

Great combo and looks so good!

Kim said...

Oh Claudia - these have to be some of the best appetizers I've ever seen. They are just perfect in every way!

Marina said...

I like it Claudia. Wonderful use of available ingredients.

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Your Spaghetti Carbonara Appetizers are so imaginative, Claudia! I could easily eat a dozen of them.

Kathy said...

Intriguing! They look like such a delicious fun appetizer! I am bookmarking this.

Torviewtoronto said...

lovely nest like muffins looks wonderful

Rebecca Subbiah said...

oh these are so cute

Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love. said...

How cool are these?! I love this idea and these look so yummy!

Ciao Chow Linda said...

Unless you're wheat intolerant, I think you've managed to please just about everyone with these tempting little bites. I missed these on Marie's blog, so I'm sure glad you revisited them.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A great idea! Those bites look lovely.

Cheers,

Rosa

Angie's Recipes said...

These would make a great lunch for me! Delectable!

Nami | Just One Cookbook said...

Hi Claudia! Wow, what a great idea! I've never seen spaghetti in this ball form! I'm afraid it's easy for me to eat the pasta so quickly since it's all easy to put it in my mouth... =P

Rosemary said...

Oh my . . . just delightful. I love the idea of -- is it portion control? -- or just the mini-ness of these. I happen to have a mini-muffin pan . . .

FOODESSA said...

This is what's great about experiencing and sharing such clever ideas.
You've succeeded to not only make these appetizers look very appealing...you've got me excited about making them ;o)

Have a great week Claudia and many more shared recipes to come.

Ciao for now,
Claudia

bellini said...

They do sound delicious Claudia and a quick way to get my crabs.

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

We love spaghetti frittatas and sometimes save left-over spaghetti just for the occasion. Love that you've made it into bit size muffins Claudia. Marvelous idea.
Sam

Anne said...

This is a very unique appetizer. I will come back to write this down. It is certainly a great way to impress your guests!

Jeannie said...

That looks delicious, I am curious as to the texture of these appetizer.

Natasha Price said...

I love the idea of spagghetti carbonara muffins - such a perfect and delicious appetizer portion!

mr. pineapple man said...

this looks awesome!

Lizzy said...

Oh, how fabulous, Claudia...an appetizer version of one of my favorite pasta dishes. And I love all the different ways you could shake this up. And, yes, you need to treat yourself to a mini-muffin pan :)

Jackie @ Domestic Fits said...

How incredibly adorable :)

Lynda said...

Oh my, these look totaly addictive Claudia...I especially like the addition of pesto; I love pesto.
Great job with a scrumptuous looking appetizer!

LinsFood said...

This is really interesting - completely original! I love them, they're just the perfect size to keep popping in your mouth, aren't they?!

Reeni said...

Hee-hee. I love that we both baked spaghetti! These are a lot tastier than mine. And very unique! I might have to add them to my spaghetti rebellion.

Proud Italian Cook said...

Forget the mini's,I'm going with the regular size muffin tins next time! You reminded me I need to make these more often and I'm going to use less egg next time too! You're the best! xo

P.S. I love your disclaimer at the bottom!

Fresh Local and Best said...

These would make for a very neat and unique appetizer. I like the versatility of the recipe.

easyfoodsmith said...

WOW! These look so cute and awesome! Great post

Joanne said...

These little muffins are so cute! The perfect way to feel like you're eating something indulgent...but in a totally portion-controlled kinda way!

SKIP TO MALOU said...

this sounds like a pasta on the go... you just have to pick it up and right into your mouth. i wonder how many pieces will disappear if I sat next to the platter... haha!
i hope you are having a great day Claudia~
xo,
Malou

Velva said...

I think of little nests when I see this tasty meal.

I admit, I often have grand plans of what I will prepare, and either time or circumstances get away from me. It's usually time. You should really try putting the your Renaissance dish back on the list for another time. That dish would be really cool.

Always.
Velva

Juliana said...

Wow Claudia, this spaghetti bite size are awesome...what a great appetizers they make. Love the bacon and peas not only add color but lots of flavors as well.
Hope you are having a wonderful week :)

kyleen said...

These little bits of pasta look so delicious and adorable!

BeetleBuggy said...

That's a delightful idea to mix up your usual spaghetti and make it look more appetizing! Love the toasted little ends of some of the spaghetti strands. Lovely recipe!

Beth said...

When I saw the title of your blog, I wasn't sure what to expect. These are so cute, and I love that you made them with exactly what you had on hand. Great recipe!

The Food Hunter said...

love this idea...always looking for nice apps...this is perfect

Island Vittles said...

How great are these! My mouth is watering...and I have a mini-muffin tin...bwahahaha. theresa

Miss Migas said...

So original!!

Catherine said...

Dear Claudia, These look like beautiful little bird's nest of deliciousness. Blessings my friend, Catherine xoxo

Mother Rimmy said...

Very creative and the dish makes such a nice presentation, doesn't it!

Roz said...

This is GENIUS! Little carbanara muffins! I've got to make these . . . FACT! Thank you for sharing this incredibly creative idea for one of my favorite Italian dishes!

Roz said...

P.S. I'm adding this to my Pinterest 'Pass the Pasta Please' pin board!

Magic of Spice said...

What a great idea these are...they would make lovely appetizers as well :)

Life's a shoe said...

wow these look! awesome!!!

sophiesfoodiefiles said...

What a fabulous dinner: so smart of you & so tasty looking too!:)

Real things of beauty, nearly to pretty to eat! :)