Raise your hand if you can quote at least half the lines from the movie Elf by heart. It might be a generational thing, I know.
Some gravitate toward the golden oldies like White Christmas or It’s a Wonderful Life, while others prefer the Eighties classics Scrooged or National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
In our house, though Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean and The Muppet Christmas Carol are must-see movies on December 24, it just wouldn’t be Christmas without Leon Redbone as a singing snowman and Zooey Deschanel’s terrible blond dye job. (Seriously, why was that required? What’s wrong with brunettes?)
Elf is undisputably a Christmas movie, but my love of the film isn’t restricted to the holiday season. I can find a way to insert a quote or two into almost any situation.
Eating a burger? It’s always appropriate to tell your dining companion that they “smell like beef and cheese.” Walking across Fifth Avenue? Remind your husband that “the yellow ones don’t stop.”
And any breakfast opportunity is a good time to mention an elf’s four main food groups: “candy, candy canes, candy corns, and syrup.”
Speaking of those four food groups, this year, upon my eleventeenth viewing of the movie, I realized it would be possible to create a dish inspired by Buddy the Elf’s favorite meal: spaghetti with maple syrup.
Though most spaghetti pie recipes are decidedly savory in nature, I knew I could tweak this modern Italian-American comfort food into something that would not only be edible but actually craveable too.
This spaghetti pie ends up as a textural cross between a kugel and a strata, but without the stomach-overloaded feeling you often get from a dense noodle casserole. With a custard base adapted from Bon Appetit‘s apple cider and maple cream tart (made this year for Thanksgiving and highly recommended), the sweet slices make an unexpected brunch side for Christmas morning.
Or, if you’re a spaghetti-for-breakfast kind of person, it’s also not bad straight from the fridge the next day. I speak from experience there.
- 1 16-ounce box (1 pound) spaghetti
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 3 large eggs
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- baking spray
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the spaghetti until al dente. Drain and reserve.
- In a large bowl, whisk the maple syrup, cream, milk, eggs, nutmeg, allspice, and cinnamon until well blended.
- Spritz a 9-inch pie pan with nonstick baking spray.
- Add the spaghetti to the pie pan, twisting and gently pressing so it's evenly distributed.
- Pour the eggy custard base over the spaghetti.
- Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the custard has set and the top of the pie is just starting to brown.
- Let the pie rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
- Optional: top with candy, candy canes, candy corn, or more syrup, and serve alongside the world's best cup of coffee. (I'll stop quoting the movie now, I promise.)