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Breakfast for dinner

Has this ever happened to you?

It’s just about dinner time. You open up the fridge, and things look pretty barren. You have a few leftover eggs that have a couple of days left in them, a nubbin of cheese, and some weary looking vegetables. Totally time to call in for takeout, no?

Not even!

One of the dishes I love to make when I need to “Macgyver” something together is a frittata. Quick, simple, and a great dumping ground for all those ingredients that might not be at their peak (but would be a shame to throw out), frittatas are entirely customizable to what you have on hand as well as your own personal preferences.

On Sunday night, I had some wilting spinach (not crisp or fresh enough for a raw salad); a carton of eggs; a stubby, almost forgotten slab of white cheddar; a jar of roasted red peppers; some frozen bacon; and some pine nuts.

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Obviously, enough ingredients to make a frittata masterpiece.

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Now here’s the thing. You might say to yourself, “Pine nuts? Roasted peppers? Who keeps this stuff on hand and claims an empty pantry?” The key to being able to whip up dishes like this — or any number of soups, pastas and salads — is to have a well-stocked pantry. At nearly all times, I like to have a wedge of parmesan, some good quality olives, roasted peppers, and the like on hand (see my next post on Thursday for my recommended fridge and pantry must-haves). With just a few staples, you can supplement your frittata with whatever fresh produce you have hanging around and make something truly great.

For my frittata, I started by turning the broiler of my oven on. In my house, that means setting the oven to 500°. I have a strange, strange oven.

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Next, I diced up half of a large yellow onion, and a leftover shallot nub I found in my refrigerator. I also stripped the leaves off 3 or 4 sprigs of thyme, and sprinkled that on top of my alliums, to be sautéed with them in a few minutes.

Then, in a medium-sized bowl, I combined eggs, a bit of milk, salt, pepper, two kinds of cheeses and a few shots of Tabasco sauce. Here, we see where random leftovers really come into play: I had some leftover cream cheese and that cheddar slab I mentioned before. On a whim, I decided to whisk in about a tablespoons worth of cream cheese, to see if it made things any creamier. I also roughly cubed the cheddar, and threw that in too. TIP: When making frittata, don’t add grated cheese to the eggs. I like to add cubes, so that when you cut into the piping hot eggs, you get little pockets of oozing cheese that string beautifully as you lift each bite to your mouth. And let’s be honest, don’t cheesy pockets of goodness make the world go ’round?

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I always add Tabasco to my scrambled eggs because when I was a young girl, I was flipping through my mother’s copy of James Beard’s Theory & Practice of Good Cooking and that’s what he said he did. So now I’ve always done it.

Whisk your eggs all around, until the cream cheese is adequately broken up and your eggs are nice and aerated.

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I once saw an episode of Tyler’s Ultimate where he visited some dude in France who whisked his eggs for at least EIGHT minutes. The theory was that whisking for so long incorporated the right amount of air to make an omelet perfectly fluffy.

While chopping and whisking and picture-taking, I also cooked three slices of bacon in the microwave.

Was that a record scratch I just heard?

It’s true. While most of the time, I like to cook my bacon in the oven (or, if I require bacon bits, I’ll render minced bacon in a saute pan), if I’m in a hurry and I’m incorporating the bacon into something very wet (like a frittata), it’s just easier to cook it in the microwave. Just plop the slices in a microwave safe dish, cover with a bit of parchment or even a paper towel, then cook for about 5 minutes. The bacon ends up looking like this:

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See? If I hadn’t told you I’d cooked this in the microwave, you never would have known.

In a large oven proof frying pan, I heated up a few tablespoons of olive oil, then added in the onion, shallot, bacon, and peppers.

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After seasoning it, and allowing the onions to become translucent, I lowered the heat and poured in the custard.

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Now’s a good time to add in the spinach, too.

Begin to stir this around a bit, as if you’re making regular scrambled eggs. Gently scrape at the bottom, but not too much. You want a whole cooked layer of eggs to form at the bottom of the pan. Once you get the sense that the eggs are starting to set well, stop stirring it around.

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Sprinkle the top with pine nuts, then throw the whole sucker in the oven. Let it sit under the broiler for about 5 minutes, until set all the way through and puffed.

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From here, you can slice it and serve it! This being me, of course I had to finish it off with a healthy dose of chopped parsley. A little herbage is never a bad addition to a frittata fiesta.

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Perfect with a little green salad on the side too. Any leftovers can be eaten the next day for lunch. Which is exactly what happened.

MacGyver Frittata

  • 10 eggs
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 4 oz cheese; whatever you have on hand that would pair well with eggs (can always add more or use less)
  • few dashes of Tabasco sauce
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup of aromatics (any combination of yellow onions, red onions, white onions, shallots, green onion, garlic, leeks)
  • 1 cup of other accompaniments (greens like spinach, dandelion, arugula; fresh or roasted peppers; proteins like bacon or pancetta or even leftover ground meat)
  • — kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the broiler on your oven. Whisk together the eggs, milk, cheese and Tabasco in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

In a large ovenproof saute pan (you can also use a nonstick pan if you’d like), heat the olive oil over medium heat until hot. Add in the aromatics, and cook until they’re just beginning to soften. Season well. Add in any other accompaniments (except any greens) and combine until heated through.

Lower the heat to low, and pour in the eggs. Using a spatula, gently move the eggs around, until the mixture begins to set and form an even layer on the bottom of the pan. Smooth the top of the frittata out, so that it will cook evenly. Garnish with any top layer accompaniments (pinenuts, dollops of pesto, globs of cheese).

Place the entire pan in the oven for 5-6 minutes, or until the frittata has cooked through and is puffed and golden. Serve hot or at room temperature.

4 Responses

  1. Cool~ I love this recipe. Well, I don’t like the idea of cooking bacon in the microwave. But hey, whatever works for this recipe. :D Thanks for sharing!

    • I knew I’d get grief for the microwaved bacon! :) Scout’s honor, for most other uses, I will roast it or pan fry it…but sometimes, if a girl’s in a hurry, and it’s going to be mixed in with wet eggs anyway, microwaving is just easier.

  2. Wow! What a site. You have a real knack for making a blog readable and easy on the eyes. I can’t wait to try out some of the recipes you have here (after a trip to the market to get the ingredients). Cooking is one of my favorite hobbies. I love improvising in the kitchen. I don’t have time to read all the articles on your site right now, I found your site while I was looking for something else on Google, but I’ve bookmarked your home page and will check back soon to see the latest posts. Click here if you’d like to check out my site. Keep up the great work, and happy cooking!

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