I read somewhere (I’m not sure where at this point as the number of cooking blogs I read and follow has gotten out of control) that ideal recipe planning revolves around three planned dinners a week. Pick your favorite shopping day, and buy all the ingredients for three dinners (plus any miscellaneous breakfast items, ingredients for lunch supplements and always one special grocery store treat). From these three dinners you can expect leftovers to eat for both lunch and dinner, all the while allowing yourself some flexibility to take advantage of the twenty dollar pizza and bottle of wine night at your local restaurant (ideal for dates!).
Obviously, one of my favorite things to do is cook. So for me the idea of just reheating exactly what I had the night before for dinner leaves me a little…sad. Spending even 10 minutes chopping, whisking, and sautéing is my little chunk of daily mindfulness. And while some days time only allows for the 2 minute microwave reheat (and let’s be honest sometimes cold rotisserie chicken from the fridge with greens and a hunk of sourdough), I really love my time in the kitchen.
I also love saving money and not wasting food, so I’ve been coming up with fun ways to do a “big” cooking night, and then finding inventive ways to reuse the main dish in a fashion that still allows me my daily meditation. This has led to a range of winners: pizzas, fried rice, salads, paninis, and my current obsession, frittatas.
Frittatas are really no more than a less complicated and hands-off omelette. I’d heard of frittatas with need-to-be-eaten-today vegetables, but until yesterday had never contemplated adding need-to-be-eaten-today pasta. Four days ago I made a half recipe of this easy weeknight (one pot!) pasta from Bon Apetit’s sister site Basically (if you get nothing from this post other than the link to Basically, I’ve done a good thing today. This site breaks down cooking with mini videos and tutorials, and all the recipes are a cinch to make with ingredients you can find anywhere). The lemon and mint and peas combined to make a delicious, light but filling dish. On day two I added a splash of water to a sauce pan with a little more pecorino and added another serving of pasta to the sauce pan and reheated, with a big old salad on the side. But by day three I (1) didn’t have quite enough pasta left to make a full meal and (2) didn’t want just another bowl of pasta (gasp, I know).
So I did some research and discovered Mark Bittman’s version of a pasta frittata on the NYT cooking site. Using this as a starting point (and ignoring his plea for long pasta because I just had shells), I browned some butter and a splash of olive oil. While this was happening I whisked together eggs, my remaining leftover pasta, a couple grates of pecorino, a handful of arugula and plenty of salt and pepper. I poured this into a 10 inch stainless steel skillet, let the bottom set and moved the whole thing to the oven. From there it was just a little baking and some broiling, and out came the most scrumptious leftover meal to date.
As my mom said, “this doesn’t even look like leftovers!” But it was. The broiling crisped the pieces of pasta just sticking out over the eggs, the arugula added a nice kick and the whole thing was delicious. This is a canvas for any pasta you may have to use up. I’m planning on making a sage and sausage pasta later this fall for the explicit purpose of having some for a frittata. I will keep you posted 🙂
Leftover Pasta Frittata
Serves one, adapted from Mark Bittman. Easily doubled or tripled, just make sure your pan is big enough!
1 serving leftover pasta, any variety (I used the mint, lemon, and pea pasta linked above!)
1 tablespoon freshly grated pecorino (or match the cheese in your pasta)
3 eggs, whisked
Handful of leftover vegetables, cooked or raw (optional)
1 tablespoon butter + 1 teaspoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Coarsely chop your pasta. You want pieces of varying sizes–some to stay big so they get crunchy on top, and others small enough to cook into the frittata completely.
- In a medium bowl, whisk eggs until combined. Stir in pasta, cheese, and vegetables. Add in a couple good grinds of salt and pepper.
- Heat a small pan over medium high heat. Bittman suggests a non-stick pan here, but I used a stainless steel skillet and had no sticking problems (I also love butter, so that explains it). A well seasoned cast-iron would also work. Add butter and oil, and cook until butter just starts to brown and is a little bubbly and smells wonderful. Swirl to ensure sides of pan get a nice coating of oil.
- Turn heat down to medium, and add egg mixture. Do not disturb! Let sit until the mixture has set on the bottom (2-4 minutes), then transfer to oven.
- Bake for 15 minutes (until mostly set and cooked through), then crank up the broiler. Broil until browned and crispy on top. Timing for this will vary on your broiler–mine took 5 minutes. Transfer to serving platter and dig in. This is delicious hot or warm or room temperature or cold. If you find yourself with two servings of pasta to work with, I highly recommend using a bigger pan and bringing the second half along for lunch the next day.
some other culinary highlights from the past week: