Accidental recipes make for such pleasant surprises. They pop up on the back sides of the newspaper clippings you send or on the same copied page as a recipe a reader requested. It's sometimes easy to overlook an accidental recipe; after all, we're looking for a baked oatmeal recipe or a good minestrone, not a Swiss chard frittata.

But after I have scoured your contributions, I come back to these accidental recipes. They make for lovely little bonuses. Of course, sometimes a page simply contains several variations on one recipe. Or the extra recipes don't sound particularly exciting or tasty.

A frittata, made with frozen Swiss chard or spinach, works as breakfast, lunch or dinner.
A frittata, made with frozen Swiss chard or spinach, works as breakfast, lunch or dinner. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead, FILE)

It's always fun reading, though, perhaps because if you spend any time in the kitchen at all, you're almost compelled to read any recipe you find. We find keeper recipes in real estate newsletters, on yellowed newspaper clippings slipped between the pages of old books and even imprinted on vintage dishes.

The Swiss chard recipe sent by Madeleine Heal appeared on the same Gourmet magazine page as one for baked oatmeal. It's a page devoted to recipes adapted from restaurants, including a banana bread that doesn't look like anything out of the ordinary. But the Swiss chard frittata was definitely worth a second look.

The frittata, which calls for frozen Swiss chard or spinach, makes enough for company and works as breakfast, lunch or dinner. It sounds like the dish holds up well; the reader who asked Gourmet to find the recipe mentioned taking wedges of the frittata in a cooler back to her Southern California home.

The frittata relies on a whopping four cups of onion and a pound of frozen Swiss chard or spinach for flavor. A thinly sliced zucchini tops the dish. While frozen Swiss chard might not be readily available in your grocery store, spinach usually is. I'm also thinking you could saute fresh Swiss chard, drain it well and add it to the dish instead.

Please note: The recipe instructs you to bake the frittata until golden on top, but it doesn't say how long that will take. I'm guessing 30 to 35 minutes based on other recipes I find, but you will want to watch it. The frittata also bakes on the other side for 10 minutes, then you flip it to display the zucchini slices.

If you've stumbled across a recipe you've come to love or found a keeper in an unusual location, please share it with other Plates readers as well.

Second helpings

Mary Ann Stoermer was delighted with the carmelita bar recipe sent in response to her request. "We have tried the recipe and will definitely make them again; they are very rich and delicious," she says.

Request line

How do you manage in a pinch? We've all been there, right? You're missing that one ingredient or scrambling to find a side dish or wondering what you can possibly make for dinner without driving to the store. Plates regular Florence Hiett figured out a way to make a faux twice-baked potato casserole recently.

"When I went to prepare a couple of baked potatoes, I found my cupboard bare," she says. "Not wanting to make a quick run to the grocery, I found a packet of instant Idahoan mashed potatoes, plain."

She followed the directions on the package, then added sour cream, grated sharp cheddar cheese and diced green onions, using the green tops as well. "Pop the dish back into the micro for a few seconds, until the cheese becomes a bit soft." She served the potatoes alongside a nice grilled steak, and "no one guessed I had instant anything!"

Hiett wonders if Plates readers will share their improvised solutions, tips and recipes as well.

Contact Kim Boatman at homeplates@bayareanewsgroup.com. Find recent Home Plates recipes online at www.mercurynews.com/home-plates.