Zero Food Waste, Week 16: Don’t Overdo It For Guests (plus frittata recipe)

zero food waste challenge 2015Another way I’ve often both overspent and wasted food in the past: hosting dinner parties! I have had a bad habit of overestimating how much we’re going to eat, and doing an entire separate shopping trip based on the dinner. I don’t want to be inhospitable!

Most recently, I had someone for dinner the night before leaving for a week. So I determined that I had to do better than in the past: I had to do minimal extra shopping, and cook exactly enough for us to eat in one meal because I wasn’t going to be in town to eat leftovers.

I ended up doing pretty well! I had eggs and an onion and a lemon and half a serrano pepper, and a $10 gift certificate to Whole Foods. So I went over there on Saturday morning and bought cilantro, lettuce, rosemary, a few very small yellow potatoes, goat cheese, and a small yellow zucchini. Aside from having to turn over half the onion to my roommate, I managed to use up all the perishables just in advance of leaving, because I made a frittata and a salad for dinner (used the rosemary in shortbread cookies for dessert.)

Frittata for Two
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

I really enjoyed this recipe — the cilantro-chile sauce is amazing — but found that cooking it was a bit harder than expected, so I made some changes to improve my experience next time.

You need: one 8.5″ nonstick pan (next time I might use a 10-inch pan; thinner frittatas are easier to cook, IMHO)

Cilantro-chile sauce
1 small bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
2-4 cloves garlic, depending on size, roughly chopped
1-2 serrano chiles, seeded and roughly chopped
1/2 c olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 big pinches cumin and 2 pinches salt

6 eggs, beaten with a pinch of salt
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 large onion or 1 small onion, chopped
3-5 (depending on size) small potatoes, sliced as thin as you can
1 small yellow zucchini, diced in 1/4″ pieces
1/4 c goat cheese, crumbled
1/4 c toasted pumpkin seeds

1) blend sauce ingredients until smooth (I used an immersion blender)

2) Swirl the olive oil in your pan and saute onions for about a minute, then add the potatoes. Cook 5-7 minutes until onions begin to brown. [A big problem I had with original recipe is that the potatoes didn’t cook through as quickly as it suggested they might, so in the future I’ll add them along with the onions much earlier in the process to give them time to finish cooking.]

3) Add squash and a pinch of salt. Put lid on pan and let cook for 3-4 min. Check to make sure potatoes are cooked through completely.

4) Slide about half the vegetables onto a plate. Pour the beaten eggs in over the rest, add about half the goat cheese crumbles, and cook until the eggs are just set, using a spatula to lift up the edges so eggs can run under (like you were cooking an omelette.) When the eggs are nearly set, spread about half the cilantro-chile sauce on top of them, then top with the rest of the vegetables, the rest of the goat cheese, and the pumpkin seeds.

5) Put the pan in the oven. You can either bake at 450 until done (depending on the thickness of the fritatta, 5-10 minutes) or put it under the broiler until done (probably 5 minutes, check often.) Divide in two and serve with remaining cilantro-chile sauce on the side.

Note: I felt that putting the entire amount of sauce (as per original recipe) into the frittata made it too liquid-y; it was hard to tell when the eggs were fully cooked. Hence the recommendation to save some for dipping. If you make this for just yourself, or if you double the recipe and make in a larger pan, frittata is good left over at room temperature; I think I’ll try doing this, and making frittata sandwiches for lunch where I spread some of the sauce on toast and then top with frittata.

10 thoughts on “Zero Food Waste, Week 16: Don’t Overdo It For Guests (plus frittata recipe)

  1. I alway have too much in leftovers if I have a dinner party, but I usually send all the leftovers home with guests (or at least some of the higher calorie items) so I don’t eat it all myself. 🙂

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Now that is a smart move 🙂 Not very fiscally prudent, maybe, but no waste at least!

  2. Hannah says:

    My husband always jokes that our friends destroy our grocery budget, which is pretty much true. Even though I’m pretty frugal with my meal choices, we have large groups over 1-2 times per week, and it can get pricey. It’s still less than a meal out for the whole family though.

    That sauce sounds delish! I’m not sure how much I would love it in a fritatta, but I think a breakfast enchilada with the sauce would be awesome. I think I’ll try that out.

    Also- in honor of your blog we ate leftovers tonight. A big triumph in my house.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      I laughed at the leftovers! I love it that I’m being inspirational 🙂 Also, I think the sauce would be delish with a breakfast enchilada or burrito or basically any Mexican-ish variation on scrambled eggs. Hmm, come to think of it if I ever made Eggs Benedict (I don’t) it would be an interesting sub for hollandaise too.

  3. I have the same problem!! I always over-estimate (I blame my Italian grandmother for this tendency), blow way past my grocery budget, and have lots of leftovers. We do eat the leftovers, but we’re still poorer at the end of the month. We don’t entertain that often, but I need to accept that simplicity and normal portions are completely acceptable. Great reminder!

    1. thesingledollar says:

      I also blame my Italian side! (I’m 50% Italian-American.) It’s the budget as much as it is the leftovers; I can easily spend $100 just on a meal, because I tend to make four (small) courses — appetizer, salad, main dish, dessert — each of which needs its own set of ingredients blah blah, and we’re not even talking about wine.

  4. Alicia says:

    I cook WAYYYY too much food for my guests as well. My parents are coming to stay with us, and I asked if they had any requests. My Mom, who is severely allergic to dairy, asks for lasagna, because my Dad raves about lasagna. Well, it’s a big dish, and then I’d have to make something else for my Mom… and I’ll do it, but it’s just funny, I guess.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Hah! I think lasagna freezes ok, so there’s that. Still! It is funny 🙂

  5. Chonce says:

    I always tend to underestimate food portions occasionally when we have people over because I’m so used to cooking for my small family, and that’s even worse. There’s usually enough food to go around initially but it goes quick. This recipe sounds delicious! And I’m always up for the challenge of making a new sauce.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      I just have this huge fear of not having enough! And I always always overcompensate 🙂

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