Thursday, October 18, 2007

Breakfast Leftovers, or Another Reason to Love Fritatas

So I had this tomatillo left over from my pork and tomatillo stew. Now, I know people who just don't bother with leftovers. They throw anything leftover away. Many of them are good people, and I like them in lots of ways. But this one characteristic makes me......well....a little bonkers. I don't get it. Perfectly fresh food, cooked that day, and whooosh! Into the garbage it goes. I would understand it if the ingredients were on their last legs - if they were just this side of wilted or gamy or whatever - and they were used in a casserole or some such thing, which would serve as their last rites. But I've seen perfectly good, delicious food get tossed. I wasn't even born during the Depression, and I don't save aluminum foil bits and roll them into balls or anything....but food? C'mon! I love the stuff too much to throw it away while it's still fresh!

I remember when I was in my 20s and living in New York City. I had numerous jobs in those days and finally quit all of them to be a potter. I made both functional and decorative things out of clay in a loft in New York. I knew I wasn't going to get rich on my art, but I had had it with working for others and needed a break from the craziness of working in politics (my last "real" job.) Now, in order to survive as an artist in a place like Manhattan, you needed to be clever and frugal. My friend Wendy taught me how to live with grace and flair on very, very little money. For one thing, there was Chinatown. In those days, you could get a bowl of congee for under a dollar. I'm sure it costs a lot more than that now, but I'm also sure it's still -
relatively speaking - cheap. And what is congee? It's all the leftover rice they have which they then boil into a thick porridge. To that they add the leftover meats and veggies of the day, and what you wind up with is a simple, filling, satisfying meal. When we added to that a little plum wine which we kept in the pottery studio, we felt like bohemian royalty.

For me, no meal is that fancy that it's out of the reach of leftovers, and that includes breakfast. Lately I've been on a fritata kick. I find that when I have a fritata for breakfast, I'm not hungry for hours and hours. Since my acupuncture practice has been off the wall busy these days, I need something that will keep me going 'till I can sit down for lunch at 1pm. To make one, I just open the fridge and scour around for whatever I've got. This day I had that tomatillo in the veggie bin, as well as a slice of ham and a couple of leftover zucchini slices I had grilled on the barbecue the night before. Good start. And then I found a small piece of leftover feta cheese and a half an onion. I was livin' large!

To make the fritata, I used 3 eggs but only one yolk. (My lower fat version.) I cut a dollop of Earth Balance into the pan and sauteed the onion first because I like my onions cooked very well. Then I added the tomatillo and the ham. I poured the scrambled eggs into the pan, and after the bottom set a bit, I tossed in the cut up chunks of zucchini and feta. When the eggs set just a bit more, I popped the pan into my 350 degree oven and put on a CD of Clara Montes music to get myself moving.

What's your favorite way of using leftovers? Do you find that you prefer the dish you've made from the leftovers even more than the original one?
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12 comments:

Lydia said...

Fritattas are my favorite way of using all sorts of leftovers. When the leftovers don't seem to be hanging together, I toss in some herbs from the garden, and that always seems to marry the flavors perfectly.

Terry B said...

Toni--I love the story of your days in New York! What wonderful, rich memories.

Regarding eggs, they really are low in fat. And while they contain a fair amount of cholesterol, the lecithin in eggs prevents the absorption of cholesterol from eggs and other sources too. So you can actually eat a couple of eggs a day without worry, yolks and all. Or, if you don't eat them every day, you can go ahead and eat three. But I'm guessing if you use the yolks too in your frittatas, two eggs would be plenty.

toni said...

Lydia - Ah, yes....herbs from the garden! Herbs make everything better - more harmonious. I think I probably threw some fresh thyme in this one, because that's what I've got going in my garden right now.

Terry - Yes, I'm familiar with this research on eggs, and if my cholesterol was normal, I'd probably live on eggs. Unfortunately, it's high, so I try to reduce fat when I can. It's also why I eat several vegetarian meals each week and take red yeast rice.

katiez said...

Frittatas are wonderful for leftovers - but in winter my bits usually end up in risotto - the same theory, a little goes a long way. Plus, then I get more leftovers - a bonus!

Toni said...

Katie - I adore risotto, but have rarely used it for leftovers. Thanks for reminding me of this!

Cynthia said...

I like your low-fat version of frittata.

Patricia Scarpin said...

I do love fritatas, Toni - and haven't made any in months!
I'll just grab a fork and "borrow" a piece of yours, ok? :)

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

I love fritattas! I make them so often because they are one of the tastiest ways to deal with leftovers!

toni said...

Cynthia - The best part is that it doesn't taste like low fat because of the yolk I include!

Pat - Grab a fork and dig in, girl!

Jenn - Oh yes! I knew we'd be on the same page on this one!

ann said...

Yep, you can still live on a dollar a meal in chinatown. Congees are a little more expensive, but there's still a few places that do scallion pancakes with pork for $1 or 5 pork & chive dumplings for a buck. Not healthy, but truly delicious! Thanks for reminding me to be thrifty. I've been letting a lot of good vege go to waste lately. Must nip that in the bud!

Chris said...

Love Fritattas!!!!!!!! I am all about this one. Thanks Toni!

toni said...

Ann - Love those scallion pancakes! Wish we had a Chinatown here.....

Chris - Thanks!