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The One-Pan Meal That Saved Dinner

February 4, 2019
Photo Credit: Beth Lipton

When it comes to dinner, two things stress me out: Not having some kind of a plan and a fridge full of clutter.

I’m not a meal planner. Even before I cooked for a living, I wasn’t that person shopping in an organized way, armed with pre-chosen recipes, prepping for an hour on Sunday. I so admire people who do that, but it just isn’t me. I’m more of a fill-the-fridge-with-healthy-stuff-you-like-and-figure-it-out-later kind of girl. Now that cooking is a big part of my job, meal planning doesn’t make sense, because there’s usually so much food from work to eat around. But sometimes I find myself with a fridge full of odds and ends from recipe development, and it makes me coo-coo crazy.

This very scenario happened one night this week. I was hungry, it was dinnertime, and there were scraps of this and that littering the fridge. Not cute. The answer: The vegetable frittata. Here’s what I did, and how you can apply it to your own life:

  • I chopped up the half of an onion I had on hand (swap another allium here if you like, shallot, leek, garlic, etc.), and the small head of broccoli, not enough for two people (tear up some spinach, shred some zucchini, swap in cauliflower—you get the idea).
  • I chopped a slice of bacon and cooked it low and slow to render the fat (but you could use butter, ghee or your oil of choice). I scooped out the cooked bacon with a slotted spoon and added the vegetables to the skillet with the fat and seasoned them with salt and pepper.
  • While the vegetables cooked, I beat two pastured eggs. When the vegetables were good to go, I added the eggs to the skillet and sprinkled on the random tablespoon or so of shredded cheddar I found in the fridge drawer (add your cheese of choice, or leave it out).
  • When the bottom was cooked, I turned a plate upside down on top of the skillet, flipped out the frittata and slid it back into the pan to cook the top (sounds complicated but it’s really easy; alternatively, you could stick the pan under the broiler to cook the top). When it was all done, I flipped it back over onto a plate, sprinkled the bacon on top and dug in.

This meal solved a number of issues: Meal-time what-to-eat anxiety, quelled. Fridge clutter, cleared up. Need for loads of nutrients and comforting food quickly on a cold night: Oh yeah. (I mean, bacon and eggs? Broccoli and cheddar? Come on.) Bonus: Very few dishes to wash. The big takeaway for me is to just not get worked up. Take the offending cluttering items out of the fridge, imagine how they can go together, and fill in with other ingredients in the fridge, freezer and pantry. And always, always have eggs on hand.

How about you: What’s your go-to last-minute dinner? Write to me and tell me about it.

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