Slice of Frittata made from leftovers

Sometimes the back of my refrigerator gets cluttered with tiny bits of leftovers, especially now when everyone is home, eating every meal together. If there’s not enough for everyone, I tend to make another whole meal. So today, I decided to use up all the leftovers in one of my favorite quick meals: a frittata.

Frittatas are essentially crustless quiches, or perhaps elevated omelets, and they are endlessly flexible. They’re appropriate for any meal of the day and an excellent dish to serve to vegetarian guests. The one ingredient you must have is eggs. Everything else is negotiable, and this makes the frittata a wonderful way to use up all those leftovers. Chopped tomatoes? Sweet potato fries? Corn kernels? Forgotten greens? A lone, unloved breakfast sausage? An odd end of cheese? Throw it all in. It’ll work! Trust me.

My frittata today used leftover sauteed peppers as well as additional fresh chopped peppers; spinach I sauteed the night before with bacon, leek greens, and soy sauce; an odd end of zucchini, sliced thin; some mushrooms I’d fried up in butter a week ago; and a spoonful of diced Hatch green chiles for punch. I sauteed the fresh ingredients in more butter, then added and reheated the cooked ingredients.

I scrambled six eggs with salt, pepper, and home-dried thyme and sage and threw it into the skillet, no mixing required, and let it simmer on medium low heat. I topped it all with gruyere cheese that had gone a little fuzzy. Mold on cheese isn’t necessarily a bad thing – mold’s an essential part of cheese and gives it its tang. If your fuzzy cheese smells off, throw it out, but if it just smells strongly cheesy, you can cut the fuzzy bits off and use the remaining cheese (as soon as possible). I gave my gruyere a shave, grated it up and tossed it on top of the egg mixture, then put the whole skillet in the oven to bake.

NOTE: Make sure you use an oven-proof skillet, and be careful after you take it out. I’ve burned my hand on a hot skillet handle before. To be safe, put a hot mitt over the handle after you set the skillet on the table to serve your frittata.

Not quite confident enough to take the wild frittata leap? Here’s a seasonally-appropriate recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, the Gardener’s Community Cookbook. I’ve replaced the one ingredient, baby artichokes, with asparagus, as that’s much more likely to be a leftover lurking in your fridge.

Sweet Spring Frittata

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1/2 cup asparagus spears, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 small sweet onions, finely chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 Tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Heat the oil in a 9- to 10-inch ovenproof skillet. Add the potatoes, turn to coat, and saute over medium-high heat until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add the asparagus, onions, garlic, and 3 tablespoons water and stir to mix. Cover the pan and cook over medium heat until the potatoes and asparagus are tender, about 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, lightly beat the eggs in a medium bowl. Beat in the remaining ingredients. Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables in the skillet and continue to cook, shaking from time to time, until the bottom is lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the top is lightly golden and set but not hard, 8 to 10 minutes more. Serve right away or at room temperature.

NOTE: I almost never mix the cheese into the eggs because it slows down the cooking of the eggs. Instead, I sprinkle it on top just before I put the skillet in the oven, which also gives the frittata a lovely cheesy crust. However, this does make it harder to tell if the eggs are fully cooked. Give the skillet a little shake; if it doesn’t wobble, it’s ready.

I’d love to hear about what fridge leftovers you tossed into your frittata! Let me know in the comments.