My food philosophy includes the idea that sometimes food should just be fun. I really didn’t know I had a philosophy about food, but just in case I do, I totally think fun should be in there. Now that leads me to frittatas, which I like OK. They’re good and they can be very nutritious and good for you and all, which I like too. But this version is just fun. Mac n Cheese, meet Frittata. I think you guys are going to be very good together.
So the idea for this recipe comes from the Williams-Sonoma catalog, which, although I’d love to own some of that gorgeous, gleaming gadgetry they offer, I have no idea where I’d store it all. And so much of it seems so, well, excessive and unnecessary. And let’s not forget expensive. But I still read the catalog from cover to cover. Go figure. But there they were, selling this two-piece frittata pan which I’m sure works just peachy, but really? Do we need this? I think not.
But what we DO need is the mac n cheese frittata they were making with it. I had to adapt the recipe to work for the 99.98% of us who don’t own the 2-piece frittata pan and probably never will, and I have to say it turned out pretty scrumptious. And fun. Without the ham and peas. Ham and peas don’t sound fun to me, but bacon does. So does adding a parmesan breadcrumb topping. Fun and really good.
And this goes together so easily, you won’t really miss the $130 frittata pan. I promise. Just throw the macaroni and bacon in your pan, press it down and let it cook for a few minutes. This will create a crispy bottom to the frittata. Then top that with the cheese, let it melt a little and pour the eggs over the whole thing.
Let it cook a few minutes and then throw it in the oven. Top it with your breadcrumbs (or don’t; this is totally optional), cook it a little longer until it’s set and then slide it out onto a serving plate. I served ours with a little arugula, but any crisp green salad is a great accompaniment.
So how fun is this frittata? Because of the crispy bottom, you can actually pick this up and eat it out of hand (let it cool to room temperature first). I’m not saying we did this, but we might have. Or you could make this in a larger pan, say 12 inches or so, and then cut it into little wedges to serve as appetizers. Or you could substitute cheddar cheese for the parmesan in the breadcrumbs and make it even more fun and crispy on top. Or leave off the breadcrumbs altogether and just top it with more cheese. That sounds really fun.
MAC N CHEESE FRITTATA
We loved the breadcrumb topping, but feel free to leave it off for a more traditional frittata dish. If you decide not to do the breadcrumb topping, I would add the chopped parsley into the beaten eggs. Optional but great additions would be chopped kale, spinach or broccoli.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon butter
2 1/2 cups cooked elbow macaroni (I like the large elbows)
6 oz grated sharp cheddar cheese
3 slices of crispy cooked, chopped bacon
1/4 cup milk or cream
3/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons grated parmesan or romano cheese
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
For the breadcrumb topping: Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium skillet and add the breadcrumbs. Cook for a few minutes and then remove from the heat (no need to brown them in the pan). Add the parsley and grated parmesan and set aside.
Beat the eggs with the milk, salt and pepper and set aside.
Heat a 10-inch non-stick or heavy skillet over medium heat and add the tablespoon of butter; swirl to coat the pan. Mix the bacon and macaroni together and add to the pan. Stir briefly to coat with the butter and then press into the bottom of the pan and let it cook for about 2 minutes. Top with the grated cheese and let it melt. Pour the beaten eggs over the macaroni and let this cook for about 3-4 minutes. Place the pan in the oven and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle the top with the breadcrumb mixture. Return to the oven and bake until the breadcrumbs are golden brown and the frittata is set, another 3 minutes or so. Let cool briefly.
Loosen the frittata and slide out onto a cutting board or serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve with a crisp green salad.