Cleaning the fridge

A quesadilla with sweet potatoes, kasha pilaf and feta cheese inside a corn tortilla? These are the kinds of concoctions one makes when it’s time to clean out leftovers in the fridge before a trip.

And we’re leaving for Italy tomorrow, so it’s down to the wire….

That day or so before a trip–when you don’t want to shop for more and you hate to throw away the leftovers–calls for some creative cooking. One of my better solutions to this dilemma is just my old standby, which can be served for breakfast, lunch or supper: vegetable frittata with roast potatoes.

It’s hard to believe you can make something as delicious as roast potatoes so simply just from what you’re likely to have in your cupboard.

For the two of us, I slice three or four small-medium Yukon Gold potatoes and half an onion, mix them with about a tablespoon and a half of olive oil in a bowl till everything has a light coating of oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and spread them on a cookie sheet. In a 375 or 400 degree oven, it’ll take about half an hour (without much attention, perhaps turning them after about 20 minutes) till they’re as golden and crispy as you like ’em.

Spinach and feta cheese frittata

Then there’s the frittata: the perfect vehicle for leftovers.  You can take nearly any combination of cooked or sauteed vegetables (caramelized onions, mushrooms, red pepper, tomatoes, asparagus, broccoli, spinach, chard, potatoes, roast cauliflower, etc.), cheese (chevre, feta, gruyere, cheddar, parmesan, etc.) fresh herbs (rosemary, basil, thyme, etc.),  even grains (rice, bulgur, kasha?) and bind them with egg for a satisfying meal.

Just take your cooked vegetables, grated or crumbled cheese (if you like) and any other ingredients you want and mix them with beaten eggs in a bowl or large measuring cup.  For the two of us I use the equivalent of two eggs (one whole egg and two egg whites, because I’m cutting down on the cholesterol) and an 8-inch cast iron pan. Put a scant teaspoon of butter or oil in the pan till it sizzles and pour in the egg-veggie-etc. mixture, on medium heat. When the bottom of the frittata is set, put the pan in the oven (alongside your nearly finished roast potatoes) until the top is barely set. Remove, cut into quarters and turn onto plates with the golden bottom side up.

Buon appetito!



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4 responses to “Cleaning the fridge

  1. nia

    What a great idea for a blog post. I’m leaving on a trip soon too and was peering into my fridge with despair. I’ll make a frittata or two and then i’ll rely on take out!

  2. Toby, In Rome at least, I don’t know about elsewhere in Italy, one of the most common frittatas made at home (I’ve never seen one in a restaurant) is made with the leftover spaghetti or pasta of the night before. The first one I ever ate was brought to the beach and cut up for a picnic. It was much thicker than the usual vegetable frittata, and absolutely delicious. And frittatas are a great place to use up bits of leftover pasta sauce, which always seem to be lurking in the back of our fridge.

  3. suzi belle

    oh toby!!!great blog!have a wonderful time in italy!!! i got to go on a short trip when ameleah was in high school…i felt part of my soul was there…still do! im there with you in spirit…enjoy!!!! im trying for a trip north to bellingham this summer…would so love to be face to face with you ,after all these years!!! so much to share! love you…spring blessings,suzi b

  4. jamie

    frittatas are a fairly common thing at my house here in seattle. I make them weekly. sometimes i’m just cleaning out the fridge and its easy to mix all the odds and ends with eggs in a cast iron skillet at 400 degrees. Other times its a big breakfast event and i buy all the delicious things i can think of; pesto, mushrooms, peppers, scallions, garlic… etc. I’m so glad to see a picture of yours, its beautiful. I’ll be sure to send you some pictures and share my recipes.

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