With bacon and cheese tucked in the center, this savory noodle cake tastes delicious topped with fresh summer tomatoes. This simple, flavorful recipe is easy to prepare. It’s a great way to use up leftover spaghetti, too!
Ironically, a vegetarian cookbook provided the inspiration for this cheesy bacon noodle cake recipe. I must have been thinking of my vegetarian friends who make an exception for bacon when I set out to prepare it. Somehow I found myself compelled to crumble leftover bacon and layer it with mozzarella in the center of the basic, unfilled noodle cake.
Oh, thank you, contrary vegetarians!
There’s just something about bacon that transforms a simple recipe into something extraordinary, and this noodle cake is no exception. Ever since I first made it years ago, it’s been one of the most requested meals at our house.
My kids love to eat thick wedges plain and unadorned, but my husband and I usually top our slices with juicy tomatoes tossed with basil, shallots, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil. The bright freshness of the tomatoes provides the perfect contrast to the smoky bacon flavor that permeates throughout the noodles and cheese.
This noodle cake gives new life to leftover spaghetti, but my kids want to eat it so often that I usually boil pasta for the express purpose of making it. It’s also a great way to use any leftover bacon if you ever manage to have some.
If you do cook bacon as you prepare the recipe, pan-frying the noodle cake in some of the bacon fat makes it taste even better. Not surprising, right?
You can definitely get creative with the fillings and toppings. I’ve used prosciutto when I realized I didn’t have any bacon and got rave reviews. Same with pancetta.
Gorgonzola cheese works fantastically inside as well. Just sub about 1/4 cup of the mozzarella cheese with the tangy, nutty Gorgonzola; more than that gets a bit strong.
In winter, when flavorful tomatoes disappear, I sometimes serve wedges with Trader Joe’s bruschetta sauce rather than subject myself to depressingly bland tomatoes (not sponsored by TJ’s, by the way — just a huge fan).
If you come up with any creative variations that work really well, please share! I’d love to hear from you!
- Noodle Cake
- 8 ounces spaghetti
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 clove garlic, pressed
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons butter (or bacon grease)
- 4 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
- 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
- Fresh Tomato Topping
- 16 ounces fresh tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh shallots
- 8 to 10 fresh basil leaves, snipped in ribbons
- salt and pepper to taste
- If not using leftover pasta, cook spaghetti in salted water according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water, shaking it dry.
- Whisk oil, eggs, garlic, salt, and Parmesan in a medium bowl until well combined. Toss in pasta to coat evenly -- clean hands work best for this.
- Heat half of the butter (or bacon grease) in an 8 or 10-inch nonstick skillet over moderate heat. Add half of the pasta, spreading it evenly to the edges. Sprinkle half of the bacon over the pasta, leaving a ½-inch margin around the edge. Top with mozzarella, spreading it evenly over the bacon. Add remaining bacon over the cheese. Cover with remaining noodles and cook until golden on the bottom, about 5 minutes.
- Slide the cake onto a plate and add remaining butter to the pan. Add a second plate on top of the plate with the noodle cake, flip it over, and then slide the cake back into the pan, cooking until the second side is crisp and golden, about 5 more minutes. Remove from pan and let sit for at least 10 minutes before slicing.
- For the topping, chop tomatoes -- halves or quarters, if using cherry tomatoes, diced for larger tomatoes -- and toss them in a medium bowl with oil and vinegar. Stir in shallots and basil and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Cut noodle cake into wedges and serve. Top slices with fresh tomato topping or pass it around the table.