Frittata for Fridge Cleaning

A delicious summer frittata with cherry tomatoes, shallots, and pea sprouts.

A delicious summer frittata with cherry tomatoes, shallots, and pea sprouts.

The great thing about eggs is how deliciously they glue together, and make a whole dish, out of miscellaneous bits and pieces. You can, of course, make an omelet and fill it with cooked vegetables, cheese or meat. If you add milk or cream to beaten eggs, and pour the mixture into a pastry shell you end up with quiche. A frittata requires fewer eggs than an omelet and less fuss than a quiche. The emphasis can be on the non-egg ingredients, and can rescue bits and pieces that by themselves are inadequate to make a meal.

I always start with something from the onion family: onions, shallot, leeks, and/or garlic. Half an onion left from another project; a large shallot if there are one or two people to eat. As much garlic as I feel like. Sauté it in a bit of butter and/or olive oil.

Then I look around for a bit of some solid vegetable like zucchini, or peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, or leftover cooked vege like carrots or potatoes, which, chopped up, work just fine. In the middle of summer a handful of cherry tomatoes cut in half is perfect with some peppers. Then I add something green and leafy: spinach, chard, shredded kale, sprouts, beet tops. A scrap of cooked ham, or sausage or chicken is a good addition. Once these bits are all in the pan, and are hot, I add beaten egg (say, one per person) and let the egg glue it all together. Add your choice of dried or fresh parsley, cilantro, basil, oregano, or what have you. Salt and pepper.

Most things are better with a bit of shredded cheese on top, and I often sprinkle some on the frittata, and run it briefly under the broiler.

This makes a good breakfast or lunch all by itself, and is fine for supper with a salad, and bread. Plus, it is fast and economical, a great way to use up bits and pieces of leftovers. Perhaps you notice, too, that it is an effective way to sneak vegetables into the diet of the vegetable-resistant?


A couple tablespoons of butter and/or olive oil
A small onion, one leek, or shallot, finely chopped
About a half a cup per person of chopped vegetables
A handful per person of leafy vegetable, shredded
Herbs, optional, to taste
1 egg per person, beaten
Salt and pepper
Heat the butter and/or oil in a sauté pan, and add the chopped onion, leek or shallot. Cook until translucent, then add the chopped vegetables and cook them until tender, or if already cooked, heated through. Stir in the leafy vegetable and cook until it is wilted, about a minute. Add the herbs, if you choose, and salt and pepper. Pour the beaten eggs over all, tipping the pan so the egg spreads evenly around the vegetables. Heat until the egg is solid, and top with cheese. Heat until the cheese is melted, or put it under the broiler until it is bubbly.
Makes a variable number of servings.

Sandy Oliver

About Sandy Oliver

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working Waterfront. Besides freelance food writing, she is a pioneering food historian beginning her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. After moving to Maine in 1988, Sandy wrote, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995. She is the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and in sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot where she gardens, preserves, cooks and teaches sustainable lifeways.