Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Life Lessons from a Frittata (or Broken Eggs and Leftovers)

Do you remember the Egg Toss Game? It's often played at summer camp and Easter picnics. Two lines of people face each other a few feet apart and toss a raw egg back and forth, taking a big step backward with every successful catch. Soon, contestants are 10 or 20 yards apart, a few eggs begin to break, and the number of contestants begin to fade until only a few are left gently tossing eggs across an expanse that would rival some Walmart parking lots until one pair of contestants is left with their unbroken egg.

Of course, there's always one or two clowns that want their eggs to break -- all over their partners. You know these knuckleheads. They either hurl the egg at you like they were pitching for the Mets or they heave back and send it sky high in the hope that you will lose track of it in the sun. Yep, I can almost see you nodding your head. We've all been there.

Sometimes Life can be one of those knuckleheads, too. Just when we need a gently tossed egg to make it through the day, week, or month, Life cocks it's arm and sends the egg screaming right at our faces where the only response it to throw up our arms to block it. Either that or Life hurls it so high we have no hope of catching it intact.

Either way, we have broken eggs.

And what do we often do with those broken eggs? We make do with what we're comfortable with and usually whip up an omelet or a batch of scrambled eggs. Why? Those dishes are easy, familiar, and require little risk.

They can also be quite boring.

It's the same way with leftovers. What do we usually do with leftover spaghetti? We nuke it and have another plate of spaghetti for lunch or dinner the next day. Leftover spinach from a salad? We toss some dressing on it and have another salad. All quite safe. And all quite boring.

When Life is not hurling eggs at us, she might be serving up plate after plate of leftovers instead of something new and challenging, and we settle for it. Why? It's safe and comfortable. I mean, spaghetti is spaghetti, right? When either of those situations happen to us, instead of responding with what's familiar and safe, we may want to re-think things and create a completely brand new dish with those broken eggs and bland leftovers.

I'm learning to.

To change my perspective and explore creative (and risky) options. Will it be messy? Probably. Invigorating? Absolutely.

So, back to the egg toss. When some clown tosses the egg in a way it can only break, instead of whipping up a plain old omelet or scrambled eggs, let's raid the fridge for some leftover pasta, that half can of dice tomatoes, the bowl of sautéed mushrooms, a handful of fresh spinach, or maybe some leftover cooked veggies to create a spectacular frittata.

Will it be messy? Probably.

Delicious? Absolutely.


What better way to clean out the fridge than with this creative and delicious frittata. Even though my specialty is cooking for two, we're making this for four because it will taste even better the next day. Especially at room temperature. Oh, and don't worry too much about the measurements. This is a messy and delightful dish that is almost impossible to mess up. Now let's open up that fridge and see what we have.

PREP: 15 minutes            COOK: 25 minutes

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
6 eggs
1/4 cup milk or half and half
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. dried basil, oregano, or thyme
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1 or 2 cups* cooked spaghetti or similar pasta (linguini, fettuccini, angel hair, etc) cut into 2" pieces if desired, but not necessary

From the Fridge:
1/4 to 1/2 cup leftover sautéed mushrooms
1/4 to 1/2 cup diced tomatoes
1/4 to 1/2 cup fresh spinach, torn
1/4 to 1/2 cup leftover cooked veggies (broccoli, squash, zucchini, potatoes, etc)

To Finish:
1 cup shredded Muenster cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (or 1-1/4 cup Parmesan cheese if not using Muenster).

1. Preheat broiler to high.

2. In large bowl, beat together eggs with milk, 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and herb of choice. Fold in fridge ingredients.

3. Heat a cast iron or other oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and butter and swirl to coat. Add onions and sauté until crisp tender, about 5 - 8 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for 1 - 2 minutes.

4. Gently stir onions, garlic and pasta into egg mixture then pour into the skillet. Flatten mixture with a spatula and cook, undisturbed, over medium - heat until bottom is set, about 5 - 8 minutes (lift edge with a spatula at 5 minutes to make sure the bottom is just lightly brown).

5. Sprinkle top with Muenster cheese and Parmesan cheese. Place pan under broiler, about 4"- 5" from heat source, and cook for 5-10 minutes until frittata is puffed, set, and beginning to turn golden brown. Remove from oven and cut into wedges. Can be served immediately or at room temperature.

*The amount of pasta will depend on how much stuff you are adding from the fridge. Use less pasta if you have a lot of fridge ingredients, more pasta if you are not using a lot. Either way, this recipe is almost foolproof!


  1. This is a lovely way to revive leftovers. I like the addition of Muenster, will need to try that.

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  3. Mmmm....this sounds great, thank you so much for sharing!