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September 9, 2008

Grated or shredded cheese (Recipe: zucchini frittata) {vegetarian}

Shreddedcheese

I am way above average.

Not in a Michael Phelps way, but somehow, some way, way above average.

I always believed it, but now I have proof.

The average American eats 32 pounds (14.5 kilograms) of cheese per year. And if that's true, I am above average. I'm sure I eat more cheese than that.

My refrigerator always has a stash of hard cheese and soft, white and blue, spreadable and sliceable, and grated or shredded cheese.

For my grated cheese stash, I have Julia Child to thank.

On an episode of one of Julia's American television series in the late 1970s -- I think she was trying to us get over our collective fear of souffle -- she pulled a plastic container of leftover shredded cheese from her freezer.

Freeze cheese? Who knew?

Not I. Not then. But now I know: leftover bits of hard cheese need not go to waste, turning into a petrified forest in my cheese drawer. I shred or grate the cheese, and add it to a container that's always in the freezer.

Keep like-minded cheeses together, though it's fun to mix in some crumbled leftover mild blue cheese with even milder shredded cheeses like Jarlsberg. Cheddar, fontina, gruyere, emmental, asiago, Parmigiano-Reggiano -- all freeze exceptionally well.

You can store shredded or grated cheese for up to six months, so that when you need some for lasagna or vegetable tarts, gratins or quesadillas, mac and cheese or fondue, it's in the freezer, ready to go. In many recipes, you can use the cheese directly from the freezer without defrosting.

If you don't have a cheese "bin" in your freezer, please start one right away. I use a two-quart container because, as you now know, I'm way above average. If you are average -- an average cheese eater, that is -- you'll probably want something a bit smaller.

To ensure that your frozen cheese is always fresh, write the date on top of the container when you first put it into the freezer. Six months from that date, empty whatever is still in the container and combine all of the cheese bits in a wonderful frittata. Cross out the old date, write the current date, and start saving again.

Shreddedcheese1

Zucchini frittata

Frittata, served with a green salad, is my summer go-to dinner, and with grated cheese in the refrigerator or freezer, it's fast and easy. And frittata is not fussy; it's delicious cold, for picnics, or at room temperature. Serves 2; can be doubled.

Ingredients

5 large eggs
3/4 cup mixed shredded cheese
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
2 tsp olive oil
1 small zucchini, sliced
1 small onion, diced
2 large mushrooms, sliced
1/4 red bell pepper, minced

Directions

In a large glass measuring cup (I use an 8-quart measure) or a bowl, beat the eggs and cheese together with a wire whisk, until the eggs are fluffy. Season with salt and pepper, stir in the herbs, and set aside.

In a small nonstick frying pan (a 10-inch pan works well), heat the olive oil. Add zucchini, onion, mushrooms and bell pepper, all at once, and sauté over low heat until the zucchini and onions are translucent, 4-5 minutes. Pour on the egg mixture. Reduce heat to simmer, and cover the pan. Cook for 5 minutes. Remove the cover, lift the edges of the frittata to let some of the uncooked egg flow underneath, and continue to cook, covered, 6-8 minutes more, or until the top is just set. Turn off the heat, remove the cover, and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]


More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:

Asparagus frittata
Frittata ring
Frittata with broccoli and garden herbs
Tarragon omeletta
Albornia de chayote

 

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Comments

Hi Lydia,
This frittata looks fabulous! Good enough to eat! I love zucchini and cheese. Just bought some zucchini today and will have to give this recipe a try. I always have cheese on hand and to have a recipe that makes only enough for 2 is a God send. I am ususally cooking for myself so this is a definite must try! Enjoy your post!

I think I eat more than 32 pounds of zucchini a year for sure...:) (Can you believe I have never put it in a fritatta?)

who knew? i did not. can we really freeze cheese. i normally freeze everything but never tried cheese. you are god sent!

I love love love the idea of a freezer cheese bin. Thank you, Lydia!

wow your photo of the gorgeous Frittata got me drooling, hee ... I adorreeeee cheese! Thank you for your tip on freezing them ;)

Great tip about freezing cheese. I always forget to do that...

I am sure we are at least double that in our house. I freeze cheese all the time! I buy rounds of Parmesan, 5 kilo blocks of Mozzerella, rounds of gouda, Edam and again 5 kilo blocks of Emanthel basically when I see it I buy it, as it is sometimes difficult to find here in China. In order to keep it from growing mold I shred it and freeze it.
My 11 year old loves cheese so much and his heros are Wallace an Grommit who love cheese too! Unfortunately this month we are taking cheese out of his diet to see if this is contributing to his mold allergies. Needless to say he is missing his cheese a lot!
The frittata looks amazing I will be making it soon but I guess it will be for my friends for a lunch when my son is at school.

Luscious photo, great recipe..and just in time for the zucchini glut.
Thanks for the tips on freezing cheese; new to me.

Keeping a container of leftover shredded cheese in the freezer is a brilliant suggestion which I need to institute immediately. (We're guilty of the tiny cheese pieces which get lost in the refrigerator and become little petrified blocks.)

I love zucchini frittata, especially this time of year, when there is so much available. I've really never frozen cheese, and since I'm way above average too, it's probably something I should do to push my cheese rating even higher!

I have never thought of freezing cheese before. What a perfect idea for me since I always struggle to use every bit of what I have in my cheese drawer. I freeze egg yolks and whites quite successfully, but cheese? How cool is that?

The zucchini frittata looks delish!

You can FREEZE CHEESE? I think you just changed my life.

You are not alone. I love cheese, too! I've been looking into making my own, but I haven't gathered enough courage to do it yet.

And zucchini frittata? Sign me up for some :-p

If only I knew about frozing cheese, I would have saved the tiny bit of sharp cheddar I had a couple of weeks ago :(
The frittata is making me hungry, and it's only 9:30. But then I'm fasting.

That is one seriously good looking frittata, Lydia.

Lydia, your frittata looks incredibly delicious! and thanks to remind me to start a cheese "bin" :)

Thanks for the shredded cheese tip. I'm going to shred up all the half bars of cheese in my dairy drawer this evening and either freeze it all or make that wonderful zucchini frittata for dinner!

Oh, that is useful information, Lydia! No cheese goes to waste in my house. To my belly it goes. ;)

Is it bad that I like to eat grated/shredded cheese by itself. It's so delicious! Nice frittata. And thank you for the opportunity of the spice rack giveaway!

I love zucchini and this frittata looks so delicious.I have never made a fritata before and am going to try this.wish me luck, i am not a very good cook(thats what my husband says),I am trying to learn to cook a variety of dishes,just not indian.thanks for sharing.

Lydia - I love fritatta. But my dear hubby has a cholesterol problem (though you'd never guess thanks to his high metabolism and fit frame). So many of my go-to dinners have eggs and cheese! If you have a chance, let me know - what's your opinion of using the fake eggs in a carton for recipes like this?

Not sure if I could stand to try the fake cheese ...

Thanks for your wonderful recipes!

What a wonderful idea. I thought freezing cheese would make it kind of grainy when thawed. I also have been known to lose bits of cheeses in corners of the fridge, so a bin makes perfect sense.

Beautiful frittata! Good way to use up all that extra zucchini too!

I always keep the rinds of my parmesan & romano and I throw them in soup when I'm making it. They last forever in the cheese drawer and they impart such a wonderful flavor to soups. When I fish them out, they go into the dog bowl for her culinary delight for the day.

I can't seem to keep cheese long enough to where it needs to go into the freezer. Great idea though, I'll have to remember that next time I buy tons of poundage a the local italian market. I'll grate up a mix and freeze it.

I often freeze cheese but had never thought of dumping it all into one container. Great idea.

Great idea on mixing frozen cheeses for a fritatta. We keep a lot of different cheeses in our fridge but lots of times they get moldy and we end up wasting.

Your zucchini frittata looks delicious!

Paz

Wow, that is a lot of cheese! The fritatta looks awesome! I had one for breakfast! YUM!

What a great idea, I have never thought of that, I will be definitely starting a cheese bin in my freezer.

I have a cheese bin. It's called my tummy, and its always got room for more.

Growing up 50+ miles away from a decent market, my mother knew about freezing cheese. I generally don't have to worry about that though---I tend to use it (or devour it) before there's anything left to freeze.

This frittata looks fabulous. Now you've got me seriously rethinking my dinner plans. I'd much rather have this & a salad!

Delightfully amusing my friend. I too suspected you were above average, glad to have the "proof". Do you know POSH NOSH? Youtube it, you'll find extraordinary food for ordinary people.

this is the first year in a long time that I haven't grown zucchini, and wow, am I sorry!
Thank you for the recipe and btw, a terrific blog.
Theresa

Everyone, thanks for your wonderful comments. Clearly I am not the only cheese lover here!

Helen, I often make larger frittatas, and have them cold the next day. They'll keep in the fridge for 2-3 days.

Maryam, you would love this frittata -- if you don't have zucchini, substitute any vegetables you have on hand.

Meeta, Nupur (welcome back!), Noobcook, Julia: freezing cheese will change your life. Your cooking life, anyway!

Tai-Tai, I'm surprised you can find such a variety of cheese in China, as it is not really part of the diet there. I hope your son finds the balance of foods he can eat -- and that he can go back to eating cheese.

Marcia, Julie, TW, Kelly, Adrienne: you are all above average, so I expect you'll be getting those large-size cheese bins!

Ben, there's so much interest in cheesemaking now. I have a friend here in RI who is taking classes now, and plans to make cheese from her goats' milk.

Warda, Susan, Gattina, Jane: I don't know if I'm the frittata queen, but I do make them often, with whatever veggies my friends bring from their gardens.

Patricia, Hillary: I definitely eat more than I freeze, too...

Lalitha, I promise this is easy to make, and I hope you like it. Becoming a good cook is just about practice, so keep cooking!

Lesley, there's no getting around all of the cholesterol in frittatas. You certainly can substitute egg whites (real ones, please) for whole eggs in at least half of the eggs called for, and use low-fat pre-shredded cheese from the supermarket. With fresh veggies and vibrant herbs, you won't really miss all of the extra fat. But there will still be cholesterol, just not quite as much.

Babs, the texture after freezing hard cheese is just fine.

Donna, Paz, Maria: thank you.

Susy, I do exactly the same with my cheese rinds. I can't imagine making vegetable or bean soups without the bit of extra goodness from the parm rinds.

Amanda, Nate, Tara: I will be checking your freezers for those cheese bins!

Sandie, I freeze just the smallest portion of the cheese that passes through my kitchen. It's fun to toss all of my cheese scraps into the bin, and then to concoct something (especially fun to make pizza bianca) with whatever I find in there.

Callipygia, I think my readers are all above average, too! I'm going to look up Posh Nosh right now.

Theresa, thank you so much.

I love cheeses...blue and brie especially.

Unfortunately, I am the only cheese lover in the family. Their taste don't go beyond sliced american in grilled cheese so I always end up with "moldy" (the bad kind) cheese in my fridge's dairy compartment. Thank you for the money-and-time saving tip!

Just made a clean-up your fridge type omelet and I would be trying your fritatta after I save up enough cheese scraps in the freezer bin I am starting right now!

Another use for cheese "odds and ends", frozen or fresh, is to whip up a batch of "fromage fort" a French cheese spread. Just process any mixture of cheese bits with a bit of mayonnaise, garlic, and a bit of salt/pepper (and any herbs you might like) to taste and you have a terrific party dip.

I never knew you can freeze cheese. Thanks for the tip! It's always great to have some on hand because they can wake up a dish so well!

Some great ideas here, Lydia! I second the cheese spread, above - I might throw the shredded cheese into a food processor with a little soft butter, sherry and mustard; quick for company, and it keeps forever. Thanks as always for the inspiration.

I must be way below average then!

I am also an above average cheese user. I have deep freeze and always have at least six different kinds of cheeses stored. Any cheese that can be grated, I grate a pound at a time, put it in one-gallon Ziploc bags and freeze flat. While it is freezing I take it out every hour of so and shake the bag, so the cheese doesn’t stick together. Then I can pour out just what I need.

Mmm. I'm always trying to figure out how to get my 5 a day! That's dinner for tonight. Thanks for the idea.

Starting tomorrow I will have a frozen cheese bin too, great idea!

I love cheese but I would have to say I may be average...but I'll have some more cheese please:D

Lalaine, you can definitely use your cheese bits for omelets, too. And you're lucky that you don't have to share your cheese with anyone -- more for you!

Cousin, that's a great idea. I'll kick in some herbs from the garden and we can make a batch the next time we're together.

Veron, I never knew it, either, before Julia taught me (her shows taught me everything, especially how to have fun in the kitchen).

Marilyn, mustard would be a wonderful addition.

Tigerfish, I know you are not, but maybe you just don't love cheese!

Kaci, great tip about shaking the cheese while it's freezing. Thanks.

Kate, you're very welcome.

Brilynn, hooray! If you're like me, you'll need a large one.

Valli, all cheese lovers are above average, don't you agree?

my mom and i freeze cheese because we are below average cheese eaters, but i have found that sometimes the cheese sticks together in one clump. so then we just re-grate it. :)

What a great idea! I keep a stash of vegetable bits and pieces in the freezer, but I never thought about cheese.

Your frittata looks lovely. I love to make them for a quick weeknight dinner.

How amazing! I love when what seems obvious to some of us is great news for others!
Love this frittata, great photo!

Always love to learn about cheese. Seems like most people around here love to buy the pouches of pre-grated cheese - yuck! What's in there besides the cheese? I don't want to know.

I'm excited about the idea of freezing the last bits of cheese, should make for a lovely blend after awhile! So, do you keep all of your varieties of cheese in the fridge (before freezing)?

Meghan, great (grate?!) tip!

Susan, what could be more perfect, a stash of veggies plus a stash of cheese? Add a few eggs from the fridge and you've got an instant meal.

MyKitchen, same here. Honestly, I thought everyone had a cheese bin in the freezer...

Michelle, I used to keep cheese bits in the freezer, but they'd get lost in the shelves and would turn into alien life forms. So now, whenever I've got a smallish bit, I just grate it into the cheese bin right away.

thank you for all of the great information! In your opinion is it best to store cheese (in fridge or freezer) in plastic bags, plastic wrap, foil, or some method I don't even know about?

I always learn something new here each and every time I come to your fabulous food site.
That pic is just stunning. I am starving now.

Emily Rose, a cheesemonger friend told me that brown paper (i.e., paper bags or kraft paper) makes a great wrapping for cheese, because it allows just enough moisture to evaporate. The wonderful cheese paper from a cheese shop is great, too, but it's expensive.

Dawn, thank you!

What is this "extra cheese" you speak of? I don't think it exists in this house. :p

Hi,
Good,i freeze cheese because we are below average cheese eaters, but i have found that sometimes the cheese sticks together in one clump.

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