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Posted on May 14, 2007 | 32 comments

Leftover Remake: Pasta frittata & multi-grilling

Leftover Remake: Pasta frittata & multi-grilling

Pasta frittata lunch

Contents: (upper) Mini frittata made with leftover pasta (recipe/tutorial below), hard-boiled egg shaped like a car, and grapes. (lower) Leftover grilled shrimp with wasabi bread crumbs, cherry tomatoes, grilled zucchini and butternut squash, and cheese triangle.

Morning prep time: 15 minutes. The zucchini and squash were already cut and prepped from a Mother’s Day picnic; I microwaved them in a covered bowl with a splash of water first to speed up grill time (no-cost substitute for a microwave mini steamer). A friend made the shrimp on Mother’s Day, so that was leftover too. I’d made a batch of eggs before, so it was waiting in the fridge in the mold. The frittata was the most labor-intensive thing in the morning.

Packing: Lettuce can also act as an edible food divider (instead of hard-to-find plastic food dividers). I cut the tails off the shrimp for neater eating.

 

 

Multi-grilling on stovetop grill Stovetop grill

Japanese bento cookbooks often show the speed technique of cooking different kinds of food together in the same pan, pot, broiler pan, etc. This is a variation: multi-grilling on a stovetop grill. Similar to a Japanese fish grill, this one has finer mesh on the top so that vegetables don’t fall through, and is marketed as being the right size for bento lunches. Just put it on your stove, heat, oil the grate and grill food (veggies, meat, fish, etc.) as if you were outside — much faster than firing up the outside grill in the morning (yeah, who’s going to do that?). Mini stovetop grill bought for US$1.50 at Daiso (Japanese dollar store with stores internationally). Amazon carries a slightly larger Japanese stovetop grill here . (Edited to add: Don’t put in the dishwasher as the white coating on the bottom will flake off.)

Pasta frittata lunch for preschooler

Contents: Bug had a mini pasta frittata, grape, leftover grilled shrimp with wasabi bread crumbs, and little skewers of leftover grilled zucchini, butternut squash, green bell peppers and cherry tomatoes.

Morning prep time: 15 minutes. The shrimp and the vegetables were leftover from a Mother’s Day picnic, and the pasta in the frittata was also leftover. The only dish made especially for this lunch was the mini frittata.

Packing: Lettuce can also act as an edible food divider (instead of hard-to-find plastic food dividers). Little Anpanman-character picks make it easy for little hands to manage the grilled vegetables, and the blue pick is for the slightly messy shrimp. I cut the tails off the shrimp and halved them to make it easier for Bug to eat. The lone grape acts as a gap filler to keep the lunch from shifting during transport.

Pasta mini frittata Leftover pasta for pasta frittata #1Pasta frittata before the frying pan #2 Pasta frittata in mini frying pan

Pasta Frittata Recipe

 

  • 2 cups leftover pasta with sauce (any kind, although long pastas like spaghetti work particularly well, and pesto sauce is particularly nice)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 Tb Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 Tb Pecorino Romano cheese, grated (if not available, substitute Parmesan)
  • 2 Tb parsley, chopped
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  1. In a bowl, beat together the eggs, cheeses, parsley and pepper. Add leftover pasta and stir well.
  2. Pre-heat broiler, and heat a mini frying pan (8-inch or similar) on medium heat and oil pan (with cooking spray, vegetable oil or butter). Pour in the egg and pasta mixture, and stir with a heatproof spatula until curds have formed in the egg. Use the spatula to pat the pasta down and shape the sides into a disc (will look like the fourth photo above).
  3. Run the pan under the hot broiler until the top is golden brown, remove from heat and let sit for a few minutes. Residual heat will continue to cook the inside of the frittata without turning it rubbery.
  4. If necessary, run the rubber spatula under the frittata to loosen it from the pan, and turn it out onto a cutting board. Cut and serve (additional sauce optional).

Insulated Insulated

I threw both lunches into the blue “Polarer Bear” insulated lunch bag below (gotta love the Engrish — my bear is polarer than your bear!). Both zippered bag and lunch wrapping cloth (furoshiki) are lined with insulated material to keep food cool or warm. The 41 x 41 cm lunch cloth holds up to a 600ml two-tier box, with an easy elastic & button closure. I quite like the insulated lunch cloth — it’s compact and keeps multiple boxes tightly wrapped, so I can toss the whole secure bundle into my diaper bag. Bought for $1.50 each at Ichiban Kan in SF.

Insulated bento bag (large) Insulated bento bag (large)

I also picked up a larger bag made of insulated material with an adjustable buckle. Holds larger boxes up to 1000ml: either a one-tier (max. size 21 x 16 x 5 cm) or a two-tier (max. size 20 x 9 x 8 cm). These kinds of products are indicative of the trend in Japan toward insulated lunch bags and better packed lunch food safety.

Lunch in a Box is nominated for Best Food Blog in the Blogger’s Choice Awards. If you’d like to cast your vote for speedy lunch packing, click here (you can vote for multiple blogs in the same category).

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32 Comments

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  1. If you don’t happen to have a handy oven-proof frying pan, what do you do instead of putting the frittata under the broiler? Would it be fine to just flip it (like an omlette)?

  2. That frittata looks delish!

  3. that looks great
    i think I’ll try the fritta out myself ^^

  4. Absolutely. You could also make little mini-frittatas in muffin cups and freeze them for later — I may do that later this week with the rest of the leftover pasta (we had a houseful of people, so lots of leftover food!).

  5. Very inventive. Bravo!

  6. Thanks! Pasta frittata is my favorite way of using up leftover pasta — it’s great with Lizano sauce (or additional pasta sauce) for breakfast.

  7. Do try it — I think it improves the flavor of leftover pasta.

  8. I use nonstick frypans for frittata and make them when I have some spare time, so they can cook slowly as God intended. A good nonstick pan will allow you to invert a plate onto the pan, wrap it in a thick folded towel, and flip the whole thing over so the omelet drops out wet side down. Then you slide it back into the pan to cook what used to be the top. (I know you know all this, Biggie, I’m just playin’ to the new cooks here.)

    one more bento fan

  9. OMBF! Nice to see you over here too, not just on Flickr! Everyone, you should check out her photostream on Flickr if you have the chance; she does creative things with alternate grains and world food.

    I find your method works well when my nonstick pan is newish and lovely; once it’s worn more it needs much more help to flip the eggs. However you make a frittata, it’s “good eats” (especially for a packed lunch).

  10. :-) It can go on both gas and electric (I have gas), and it’s also great for making yaki onigiri (grilled rice balls). Just plop it right on your hot burner (adjust heat to whatever you’re aiming for — maybe start off with medium and adjust), let it get hot, and lightly oil the top with vegetable oil (on a paper towel) to keep things from sticking. Then grill as if you were outside. Hadn’t realized Daiso had the slicing multi-tools — man, that place is just chock-full of fun things!

  11. mmmm, frittata! That’s one of those dishes that always sounds marvelous to me and yet I never remember to make it when leftover pasta-time rolls around. Now that I have bento boxes and your recipe, that might change!

  12. I made a pasta dish the other day that didn’t turn out too hot…this is a perfect idea for packing into lunch this week!

  13. Can that daiso griller work on a smooth cooktop I wonder? I just moved into a house with one of these…

  14. I hope you like it, stubbleglitter! You can really use any kinds of pastas or veggie leftovers in a frittata, they’re so flexible (and good at room temperature too).

  15. Second chance at life!

  16. I’m not that familiar with smooth cooktops as I haven’t cooked on them before. If the bottom of the pan/pot needs to be smooth for the element to heat up, I would think the griller probably wouldn’t work as the bottom is kind of a coated metal mesh. Anyone else want to weigh in on induction cooktops?

  17. mlouise, tell your daughter not to put the grill in the dishwasher, otherwise the white coating on the bottom will start to flake off. Hand wash this type of grill. Other models don’t have the coating and are dishwasher-safe.

  18. Looks like this: Lizano Salsa. If you can find it locally, the big bottle should be about $3 to $4.

  19. i love all of your bentos! it has inspired me to start a bento blog of my own. your tips have really helped me. i especially like your pasta fritta tip today because i just love pasta!
    i have a question though: how is it that you can pack cold and hot items in the same bento boxes? and do you reheat the boxes at lunch time?
    i try to pack a bento lunch for my brother everyday (he’s in high school). please check out some of my creations when you have time!

  20. Thanks littopyro! I just friended you, so your bento entries will turn up on my packed lunch Friends page.

    Bug and I tend to eat lunch outside at playgrounds, the zoo, etc., so we eat our food at room temperature unless I’ve packed it in a thermal jar or used ice packs in an insulated lunch bag (i.e. when packing yogurt or lettuce). Japanese bento cookbooks recommend spicing food to be eaten at room temperature more heavily than food to be eaten hot, BTW.

  21. Hmm, a mystery. I’m not sure what the “flowing” part is, but imflowing is probably “I’m flowing” — “Only I’m flowing. You don’t flow. I’m flowing.” Is there a ball in the picture? Could be “throwing”. “Stay a place” could possibly be English for something like “kimi no uchi ni tomaru” — stay overnight at someone’s house. It’s a fun game, though! Reverse-engineering Engrish.

  22. Very fun and inspirational site, thanks! You mentioned that plastic dividers are hard to come by. Couldn’t you make your own? Flexible cutting mats, plastic notebooks, and placemats are possible sources of plastic light enough to be cut with scissors but rigid enough to separate food. Then having dividers for each of your boxes would be a piece of cake! LOL

  23. @32 from auntiemichal:
    Thanks for the kind words, auntiemichal! Excellent idea for DIY plastic dividers (just need to make sure that any plastic you use is food-safe)! Just brilliant. Did you find your way here via one of the DIY sites? ;-)

  24. @34 from OMBF: You know, I believe the white coating is asbestos, but I’ll double-check the package the next time I’m at Daiso. It absolutely doesn’t melt, but DON’T put it in the dishwasher (I learned this from hard experience — the coating kind of crumbles/flakes if you do). I think it’s meant to diffuse the heat, but again, I’ll double check the package when I’m next there.

  25. @34/36 from One More Bento Fan: I went to Daiso today and replaced my little stovetop grill. Turns out the white coating is ceramic, of course, and not asbestos (d’oh!). The package does warn that the first time you use it, you should heat it empty without having washed it first. And it also warns against using scrub brushes or anything else rough on the ceramic coating when washing.

  26. @37 from Biggie: :) All right, then, one more tiny appliance to find room for. Friday is my usual Daiso day, but I might just go tomorrow. And I’ll have to google grilling recipes, of course…

    Hmm, grilled/roasted bell peppers…

  27. @39 from Sunflower: Good point on the flexible cutting boards not being as flexible as the disposable — it’d be good to cut a variety of heights from one boards, depending on the boxes you have.

  28. Your link to amazon for the stovetop grill doesn’t work anymore. They don’t carry that one now. :(

  29. @41 from Amanda: Grr, you’re right. I can’t locate a similar one on Amazon or Ichiban Kan right now, but I’d say keep an eye on the Ichiban Kan online store as I think I’ve seen them there before. http://ichibankanusa.com

  30. The fish roaster is back in stock now (4 left) at Amazon. I just grabbed one after waiting months for it come back in stock.

  31. It’s impossible to find leftover pasta at my house. After I cook it, before my family can devour it,I’ll have to set aside two cups of it, and mark it DO NOT EAT in the fridge.

  32. Hi. I just found your site and have been on it for hours. My husband is in the Marine Corps and we’re living in Okinawa right now. We haven’t been here long so I have yet to learn Japanese. I want to go to the 100 yen store or San A to buy a grill. Can you tell me what it would be called in Japanese so I can ask if I don’t find it myself?

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