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A Fridge-to-Table Solution for Leftovers

An easy way to clean up a refrigerator full of almost-wilted greens, leftover ziti, half a rotisserie chicken, and other bits and bobs

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Can we take a moment to appreciate the amazing egg? Hero of many last-minute meals, these true superfoods are there for us in so many ways. They hold our cookies and cakes together, a hard-boiled egg can save us from mid-morning hunger panics, and, in a humble frittata, they can transform leftovers into a great meal, any time of day.

The fridge-cleanout frittata is a great non-recipe technique to learn and teach to kids, because a big part of making the most out of your food budget is using up odds and ends—and the whole thing can go from fridge to table in about 20 minutes.

Simply heat up any leftovers in an ovenproof skillet—or sauté chopped veggies until softened—and add a few beaten eggs (about 6 for an 8-inch skillet). Cook the frittata over medium heat until the bottom is set and it starts to bubble on the surface, then finish in a hot oven or under the broiler until the top is puffed and golden.

Here are a few combinations to inspire your own fridge frittata:

Vegetables and cheese: Cook a few kinds of chopped veggies or use last night’s cooked veg and a handful of shredded cheese for a super-simple combo.

Pasta frittata: Use up leftover noodles and sauce—it may sound strange, but it totally works! Think of it kind of like deep-dish pizza. Stir in pesto for a mean, green number.

Cheeseburger and fries: Brown ground beef and use up any roasted, baked, or shredded potatoes (regular or sweet potatoes will work). Add some cheese, and you’ve got a drive-thru-worthy meal at home.

Leftover roast chicken: Last night’s bird might not be enough for another meal, but shred up what’s left with diced tomatoes and spiralized veggies for a colorful, protein-packed breakfast.

Really, anything goes. We’ve yet to come across a combo that doesn’t work—there’s something about the creamy eggs that really ties everything together. Another awesome feature of frittatas? They’re tasty hot, cold, or at room temperature. Pieces of leftover frittata can be used as school lunches or grab-and-go meals on the commute, no need to reheat. Yep, leftover leftovers can be delicious. Thanks again, eggs.

Scroll down for a great starter recipe to help you perfect the method.

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The Fridge-Cleanout Frittata

A frittata is a great way to use up roasted vegetables, cheese scraps, Chinese takeout, cold pasta, last slices of lunch meat, or the bottom of a bag of spinach, this easy meal will help you clean up the fridge, fast. Serving more people than the recipe calls for? Use a bigger pan and add more eggs.

Featured in: A Fridge-to-Table Solution for Leftovers

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  • Yield: 3 to 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cups leftover cooked vegetables (e.g., corn kernels, sautéed green beans, roasted butternut squash, steamed asparagus, or anything else you’ve got in the fridge)
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar, mozzarella, jack, or your family’s favorite)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 6 eggs
  • ¼ cup milk or cream (optional)
  • 1 pinch salt

Steps:

  1. Step 1

    Preheat the broiler. In an 8-inch ovenproof skillet or cast-iron pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the leftover vegetables and cook until warmed through.

  2. Step 2

    In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and milk (if using) until beaten, then add the cheese and season with salt.

  3. Step 3

    Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables and stir or tilt the pan until eggs are spread evenly across the bottom. Sprinkle the tomatoes over the eggs. Cook over medium heat until you see bubbles forming on the top of the eggs. Place the skillet under the broiler. Watching closely, broil until the frittata is puffed and golden brown on top and no eggs jiggle when you shake the pan.

  4. Step 4

    Remove the skillet from the oven. Slice the frittata into wedges (or turn out onto a plate, if you’re adventurous) and serve.