Pour An Egg Over It: The Art Of The Frittata

While the current egg trend may be "put an egg on it" I'm apt to take a different approach. Rather than heat and butter another pan for the fried egg to top whatever it is, I find it as easy, aesthetically pleasing and effective as a means of gentrifying and fortifying leftovers, to pour an egg over it.

The frittata world is simple in its creed, and vast in its reach. We typically use this Italian word to describe a dish of beaten, fried and set eggs, but plenty of food cultures have their version. Spanish tortilla, beaten egg poured over olive oil-fried potatoes, set in a pan or dish and finished in the oven, is a well-known example. One of my favorites is matzo brie (pronounced bry like guy, not like brie the cheese), made by soaking pieces of matzo in beaten egg and pouring the whole thing into a buttered pan. But potatoes and matzo is boring. Here are some tips on making what might end up being the breakfast, lunch, brunch, dinner or snack of your dreams. Versatile, right?

You're not actually going to reheat and eat that leftover half cup of pasta, are you?

Probably not — it's barely enough for a respectable snack. Plus, microwaved leftover pasta sucks, but frittata-ed leftover pasta is absolutely awesome. The egg keeps the pasta moist and the quick cooking time prevents it from getting soggy. This spaghetti with broccoli rabe and smoked mozzarella would be great on its own, but the frittata version is so much better. I've reprised that idea with kasha varnishkes — buckwheat groats and bow-tie pasta — to great effect. Here are a few other pastas whose leftovers work particularly well, plus a foolproof technique. Tip: don't frittatafy gluten-free pasta — it tends to disintegrate when baked unless specifically undercooked for that purpose.

Don't flip out; do rest

Frittatas generally aren't flipped to cook the other side. They're started on the stove and finished in the oven to ensure the bottom doesn't cook more quickly than the top and are either served in the pan they were baked in or inverted onto a plate or cutting board and sliced into wedges for serving. If you try to flip a frittata, you'll end up with something more like an omelet or possibly an amorpheous scramble. Hot eggs coming out of the oven need a few minutes to cool and "shrink" or contract around the ingredients, or the whole business may fall apart. Don't worry too much if this happens — your "former frittata" is still entirely edible and you'll learn a valuable lesson in both thermodynamics and patience.

The egginess is entirely up to you

If you're just looking for a binder to hold your frittata ingredients together, use only enough beaten egg to moisten all the ingredients and not so much that it pools at the bottom of the mixing bowl. If you're lower on ingredients than eggs, make it more of an egg dish studded with that awesome leftover stuffed tomato you were smart enough to save for a frittata. To hit somewhere in the middle, the general ratio is two cups of leftovers to four beaten eggs.

Wondering which leftovers to frittatafy? Here are a few FR-approved recipes to make a little too much of:

More good cooking advice on Food Republic: