I'm not the best planner.
I was humbled and a bit nervous when I was asked last month, to be a contributing writer for the wonderful website 'Plan to Eat'.
I am thrilled to be a part of it, and I love the concept (I hope to eventually try out their amazing meal-planning software.)
There is such truth to the fact that if you don't plan to eat, you won't eat well.
I suppose I do some general planning each week when I buy meat, fruits and veg for the basic layout of my meals. The thing is, I live for the spontaneous. I dread routine. I love the challenge of opening the fridge, scoping out the chilly landscape - and creating.
The downside to my planning weakness is that I usually end up out of clear ideas - 3 days too early... (my shopping day is Friday). This is when I have to really dig deep. Most of the time, this is when the magic happens.
The other day, I had a friend (and her 5 kiddos) over. We chatted away the morning while our kids ran amuck and before long it was lunchtime.
Lunch is another hard thing for me.
I never plan for lunch.
I usually depend on my Italian make-too-much-food-at-every-meal problem/blessing to cover our lunches. It usually does the job.
On this particular day, I lucked out. I had my daily sourdough loaf (if you slice it thin and give it a quick toast it stretches far), and two leftover meals from the nights prior: Egg Frittata (a crust-less quiche) and Meatloaf.
Both of these make fabulous cold sandwiches.
When I look more closely at these two wonderful things: Frittata and Meatloaf, I realized - they are also my two favorite use-up-the-leftovers meals.
Let me explain how. I'll start with the Frittata.
When I made this particular Frittata for dinner, we were out of mostly everything...but we always have eggs.
I had some random bits that needed eating. Some stale-ish roasted potatoes (not enough for all of us to eat for lunch) and another small-ish helping of leftover asparagus. I was plum out most other desirables (usually I love to put in some fresh zucchini or roasted red peppers) but... it gets worse... I was OUT OF ONIONS.
Even when I'm out of all other fresh produce, I usually NEVER let myself run out of onions (and garlic). I buy a lot of them... for this Italian - it makes me a little shakey just to talk about it...
BUT - I pushed on. Thank goodness for Spring garlic chives. I ran out to the garden, clipped off a nice large handful to use instead.
Never be afraid to improvise!
Garlic chives went into the cast iron pan with some oil, salt, then the other bits: (cut up asparagus, and potatoes). I seasoned generously with salt and pepper and moved to the next step...
Here's how to make one from start to finish:
- A glug of olive oil or (free-range) pork/bacon fat (read here if you don't believe it's healthy!)
- Onions and/or garlic (any type)
- Your favorite seasoning (or whatever you have on hand) dried or fresh herbs, etc. Don't forget salt.
- Fresh Vegetables or Meat (this is when using whatever you have is great)
- Cheese (a handful of any kind works) - not totally neccessary if you don't have it
- Splash of milk - more milk makes it more moist and custard-like, less makes it firmer (I use raw milk, but I've used coconut too) - not necessary if you dont' have it
- About a dozen eggs (use more or less depending on the size of your skillet)
Pre-heat your oven to 350.
Start by making sure your skillet (cast iron is what I use) is well oiled. Add your onions and garlic and cook until softened. Add herbs/seasonings. Add any vegetables that need to cook through. (if using raw potatoes or raw meat like sausage, make sure they are mostly cooked before adding egg.)
If using leftover cooked veggies, add them just before adding the egg, so not to over-cook.
Whisk eggs, milk & cheese together in a bowl. While the skillet is still on the stove top (with the veggies/add-ins) pour in your egg mixture. Allow egg to fill the pan, (tip slightly if you need to distribute the egg) but don't stir at all. Turn off stove top, and carefully lift your skillet into the pre-heated oven. (You obviously can't use a skillet with a plastic or rubber handle.)
Keep an eye on your Frittata and check after 10-15 minutes. Take it out when the center is firm and it no longer jiggles in the middle when you shake the skillet.
Slice and serve, sprinkled with sea (or kosher) salt. Add a salad on the side for a full meal! I think it tastes even better the next day cold. Great for breakfast with some toast & honey, or as I shared earlier, on a sandwich.
Here are some of my favorite combos (usually the simpler the better!)
potato & roasted red pepper
sausage & onion
bacon & leek
zucchini & fresh fennel
jalapeno & cilantro
onion & herb
Pictured above: jalapeno & cilantro frittata topped with salsa and fresh homemade yogurt!
Part 2 will be how meatloaf-ish meals can be another great place for certain leftovers...