Using up leftovers: Frittata

I wonder who came up with the idea of bubble and squeak: Tear off any meat that’s still on the bone from leftover Sunday roasts. Chop and shallow-fry any leftover sprouts or cabbage, (trying not to blacken too much.) Finally, mash everything up with a lump of potato. Not really the kind of thing that triggers involuntary salivation.

It’s pretty funny to think of us Brits through the ages – stranded on this infernal island, blackened by soot and smog, in a rain cloud…and using up kitchen leftovers by forcing down platefuls of stodgy bubble and squeak. In the meantime, our European cousins were working on their tan, bathing in the Mediterranean, waking up from their siesta and eating frittata. Bliss.

One of the main things to remember about frittatas is that: “The rules are, there ain’t no rules”. Conventional versions might just use onions, eggs and potatoes – perhaps spiked with a few Mediterranean ingredients like feta or sundried tomatoes. There’s no reason that you can’t stick in exactly what you want, dammit, why not leftover roast veggies from the Sunday roast, with a bit of pulled chicken.

Though there are no rules, here are a few frittata tips.

1. Cram it with leftovers. From bacon to goats cheese, hot smoked salmon, courgettes and asparagus—it doesn’t matter what the leftovers are, the main point is, I like a frittata which contains lots of them.

2. A frittata is made to share with friends. The omelette is selfishly folded in half, and scoffed alone, but a frittata is designed to be sliced, and served with salad or bread round a big table with all your family invited. If you have no friends to share a big frittata with, then there’s good news — cold slices of frittata go well in lunch boxes. The point though, is that you aren’t meant to eat it all in one sitting.

3. A frittata isn’t flash fried. Unlike scrambled or poached, there’s no high-intensity, nail-biting egg cooking with a frittata. It should be done on a very low heat, for around 15 -20 minutes. Plenty of time to open a bottle, and nibble on some olives and pitta while it cooks away.

4. Forget flipping of folding. A frittata is low-fuss like this. Just put the ingredients in a pan which can go in the oven, and then ‘cook’, more like you’re baking a cake. Some clever people or show-offs do flip a frittata during cooking, but it doesn’t need it. It’s a blood pressure-raising activity, so I tend not to bother.

5. Don’t cook until it’s rock solid. As is often the way with egg-based dishes (eg. Quiches, custard tarts), a frittata should be cooked until it’s ‘set’, not ‘solid’. The middle will continue to cook once you’ve turned it out.

Frittata Recipe
Serves 6

A generous knob of butter
1 large onion
6 leftover pre-boiled potatoes, sliced
150g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
1 chorizo sausage, sliced
125g goats cheese, crumbled
12 Sun dried tomatoes, sliced
35ml milk
4 goose eggs (ok, I realise it’s rare to have 4 goose eggs lying about but look at my post on blowing eggs and you’ll understand why this was part of the leftovers. A more conventional suggestion would be 8 CHICKEN EGGS)

1. Heat the butter in an oven-proof frying pan.
2. Gently fry the onions until they start to turn translucent.
3. Add the chorizo to the pan, and then the mushrooms, potatoes and thyme, and allow another 5-7 minutes of cooking at a medium temperature.
4. break the eggs into a bowl, add a splash of milk (about 35ml), and pour on top the frying onions, chorizo, mushrooms, potatoes and thyme.
5. Scatter the leftover ingredients which don’t need as much cooking on top – in this case, goat’s cheese and sun dried tomatoes.
6. Cook the frittata on a medium-heat hob for five minutes, so the base is thoroughly cooked.
7. Next, put the frittata into a preheated oven at 180C – don’t worry if the door won’t close. It’s really just so that the frittata is exposed to heat from all angles, rather than being blasted from bottom upwards.
8. Poke the frittata with a knife to check that it’s just-cooked. Obviously, if raw egg seeps out of the incision, then keep it in for a bit longer.
9. When you’re satisfied that the frittata is done, put a flat board over the pan, and then turn it upside down, tipping the frittata out onto a board.
10. Serve with crusty bread and a salad. Refrigerate any leftovers for lunchboxes.

As I said, the best frittatas really just use up what’s in the fridge. If you’re after some inspiration, then I’ve put a few more recipes I’ve done in the past below.

1. Summer Greens Frittata

4 shallots, diced
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
6 boiled potatoes, sliced
8 asparagus spears, chopped
1 mug of full of frozen peas, blanched
100g feta, crumbled
15g fresh mint, chopped
8 eggs

2. Breakfast Traybake Frittata

820g potatoes, parboiled, cooled and then sliced
500g onions, sliced
450g frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed out
270g sundried tomatoes
200g feta cheese
2 tbsp crème fraîche
18 eggs

3. Sunday Lunch Leftover Frittata

6 roast potatoes, roughly cut
6 broccoli florets, roughly cut
2 handfuls of cooked chicken, shredded
1 handful of chedder, grated
50ml double cream
10 eggs


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