Food + Wine

Stretch Your Chicken Pt. 4 (and 5)

Last night’s meal was simple, good, and fun.  I made a Pasta Fritatta out of the leftover whole wheat spaghetti from Day 1.  I still followed the rules because I always have an abundance of eggs in my fridge, lots of different kinds of cheeses, milk and half and half and fresh herbs from the garden.  This meal is such a great way to use up leftover pasta.  I never used to make too much pasta, only whatever I needed for the meall.  I never thought of going ahead and boiling extra noodles for something else.  I wouldn’t recommend making extra pasta to have for another ‘pasta night’ because you will most likely end up with mushy noodles, but using it in this way was great.  My mother in law says she freezes cooked pasta in baggies, so I suppose that’s an option too!  Think about using leftover pasta in different kinds of casseroles where rice would normally be, in a noodle kugel (kind of a bread pudding, but with pasta), or to be added in soups at the last minute.  There are a lot of different options!

I have found, through this One Chicken/One Week Challenge, that it is extremely helpful to have lots of pre-made, pre-chopped ingredients on hand.  I mean, that sounds absurd to even type that. OF COURSE it’s helpful to have pre-prepped things on hand!  I’ve been preaching it for years!!  I just think I forgot about it, with how busy I’ve been.  It’s been a long time since I have taken one day to cook as much as I can to help me throughout the week.  But I have always written out my meal plan for the week once I get back from the store, which definitely saves time and money.  I work from home so I’m always ‘cooking’ dinner in the afternoon when my kids are asleep so it’s ready to be finished at dinner-time, but I understand that most people don’t have that option.  However, many do have the option of taking 1-2 hours during the week, on a Sunday for instance, to prep things and cook things to help them throughout their busy work week.  It’s hard to get to that place mentally, because we, as a culture, get so caught up in routines, but it is so worth it if you do.

OK, enough of that.  On to the food.  This meal couldn’t be easier.  And you can make it ahead if you stop the cooking before it sets completely, then refrigerate the whole skillet.  When you’re ready for dinner, pull it out and let it come up to room temperature by placing it on top of the oven while you preheat it again.  Finish cooking it completely and serve.  You can also add whatever you want to this, using whatever else you may have in your fridge…leftover roasted veggies, meat, anything and everything will do.

Done.  Enjoy!

*Pasta Fritatta with Mozzarella and Basil
(serves 8 for dinner with side item of your choice, or 8 by itself for a lunch/brunch)

-In a large, non-stick skillet, cover the bottom with olive oil and heat on medium heat.  Place your leftover pasta (1 lb. cooked noodles) into the pan and spread evenly.

-Allow the bottom to begin to crisp up while you mince 3 cloves of garlic, dice 12 oz of good mozzarella and make your custard.
-In a large mixing bowl, beat 12 large eggs and add 1 tsp kosher salt, some fresh cracked pepper, lots of grated nutmeg and about 1/2 cup of half and half or whole milk (nothing less than that or it will be too watery).
-Sprinkle your minced garlic evenly over the pasta in the pan, along with the cheese.

-Evenly pour your custard into the pan.  Let it sit for a couple minutes, shaking the pan as it cooks, and when you start to see the edges of the pan set and cook, take your spatula around the edges and scoop it in a bit, helping the sides set.

-Once you see a visible, cooked rim around the edges and you feel the bottom as set, transfer to a preheated 375 degree oven and bake for 20 minutes.  This should be plenty of time for the center to set and the cheese to melt.

-Allow to cool a bit in the pan, shake it to make sure it is loose enough to transfer, and slide it out onto the counter or cutting board.  Slice as you would a pizza and serve with a raw tomato sauce, or some marinara.  Top with fresh basil.

As for Meal #5, it will be Corn and Mushroom Risotto.  I don’t think I will write out a post for that one, as many of you already know how to cook risotto, or can easily learn how to by someone else online.  Risotto is a wonderful meal and should be made often.  It is, by far, my favorite thing to make with good, homemade chicken stock besides soup.  I have leftover corn and fresh mushrooms, along with the corn cobs that I will use to infuse my leftover chicken stock from Day 1.  And always, always make extra risotto.  You can mix in a beaten egg, form into patties and pan-fry for a delicious lunch or side dish.

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