This incredibly easy recipe can turn your random carbs into a full-on meal.

By Stacey Ballis
March 02, 2021
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Chances are pretty good that right now, in your fridge, are some leftovers. And if your fridge is anything like mine, a decent percentage of those leftovers are carb-based. Whether it's pasta you were inspired to whip up after watching Stanley Tucci's new food show, or some fried rice or pad Thai from this weekend's takeout dinner, or some leftover roasted potatoes or grain pilaf, odds are there's a variety of starches stacked up in a variety of storage containers. 

Sure, you can eat any of these dishes cold right out of the container standing over the sink, hypothetically, which is efficient if not surprisingly pleasurable. Or you can zap them in a microwave to eke out a lunch, maybe cobble together a salad to accompany. But wouldn't it be better to elevate them to a second meal that makes them potentially as satisfying, dare I say sometimes more satisfying, than the original?

Here's the key to the kingdom: It is time to frittata those starches.

Why a frittata is the best way to use up leftover starches

I know that most people think of frittatas as filled with vegetables, meats or cheeses, and are generally for brunch fare. But my first experience with frittata was with an Italian pal whose mom used them as a way to stretch leftover spaghetti into a second meal. Adding a basic combination of eggs and milk (half and half or cream if you are feeling extra) to any leftover starch and baking in a skillet will give you a super satisfying meal, from hearty breakfast or brunch, to a perfect lunch, to a light delicious dinner. Heck, even a small slice can cure those mid-afternoon slumps.

Frittatas also save you time (and chopping)

The best part is that all of the important flavor and seasoning you need is already in your leftovers! No need to start sautéing aromatics or cooking off ingredients: No muss, no fuss. It takes longer for your oven to heat than it does to get your frittata mix blended. And it works with any amount of leftovers. If you have a lot of leftovers, your frittata will be deliciously dense, with the starches bound with enough egg to stick them together, but still retaining that punch of the original. If you don't have a lot of leftovers, you'll get more of a baked egg dish punctuated with interesting texture and flavor. It all works! Have some extra leftovers like cooked vegetables or meats you want to add? Throw them in.

Frittata
Credit: Getty / Olha_Afanasieva

How to make a frittata with leftover starches

This is literally the easiest thing you could possibly do. Ready?

Begin with the following:

  • A 10-inch oven-proof non-stick skillet
  • 8 eggs
  • ½ cup of milk

1. In a large bowl beat your eggs and milk with a generous pinch of kosher salt and some grindings of black pepper, then add in your leftover starches and mix so that everything is coated.

2. Heat your oven to 350°, set your skillet over medium high heat and add a couple tablespoons of neutral oil.

3. While the oven is heating, add your frittata mix to your skillet, and be sure that the fillings are well distributed. Cook over medium heat for between 6-7 minutes; the sides should be set and pull away from the sides of the pan, and if you slide a spatula in and lift gently you should see some light browning.

4. Slide the pan into the heated oven and cook for an additional 15-20 minutes. If your frittata is mostly egg mix, with not a ton of starches, it will cook faster than one which is packed full of goodies. The frittata is done when a knife slides into the center and comes out clean.

5. Remove the pan from the oven and slide the frittata onto a cutting board or serving platter and let rest for 5 minutes before slicing. You can eat hot, warm, or at room temp.