La Frittata

IMG_0165

The frittata, or as I like to call it, eggs with all the random stuff in my fridge that I need to get rid of!  Roasted in a skillet and mixed with eggs, cheese, and a few spices, and you would never know that that broccoli had been sitting in your fridge for almost a week.  Sneaky sneakyyyy.  A frittata looks impressive with its golden-brown glow and artful display of vegetables, but is incredibly easy to make and also light on the wallet.

Frittata translates to “fried” in Italian.  If you’ve never had a frittata before, it’s like a crustless egg “pie” or quiche.  Think of how you would make an omelette but skip the step of folding it over, and boom you’ve got a frittata!  We typically think of eating these for breakfast or brunch, but in Italy they are traditionally eaten with lunch or dinner.  This is because eggs are rarely eaten in the morning in Italian culture.  You’d be hard-pressed to find eggs being served at an Italian cafe for breakfast; instead, the Italian-way consists of some biscotti, a pastry (like un cornetto, the Italian-verison of a croissant), and an espresso or cappuccino.

When I arrived in Italy, one of the first questions my host mom, Nicoletta, asked me was what I ate for breakfast.  Although I did enjoy having eggs pretty frequently back in the US, I wanted to fully embrace the typical Italian breakfast.  Every morning I would come up the stairs from my room to their small but cozy kitchen, an Italian talk-show playing on the radio, to find my breakfast arranged on a placemat, which my host father, Antonio, lovingly insisted on preparing himself every morning: a yogurt, some biscotti, a piece of fruit, and sometimes (to my pleasant surprise) a piece of a pastry or cake that my host sister had made.  Let’s just say I didn’t miss eggs at all.

When I did have eggs in Italy, my host mom would usually make them in the form of a frittata as an accompaniment for dinner – Vuoi anche una frittata?  Hers were a simple fried egg with salt and pepper; however, if they were the main course of the meal  veggies, meats, and cheeses were added.

It’s up to you (or your fridge!) to decide what you’d like to add to a frittata.  I’m convinced you can put anything in these and they will taste good.  I’ve made them caprese-style (mozzarella, tomato, and fresh basil), southwestern style (avocado, red onion, tomato, cheddar cheese), or simply just peppers and onions.  You could also throw in chopped-up meats like bacon or prosciutto, or add some boiled potatoes if you want something heartier.  I recently made one with spinach, onions, and cubes of parmigiano reggiano (aka my favorite cheese and something you will be seeing a LOT of on this blog), and it was GOOD.

I used to only make these on special occasions like Mother’s Day (great for breakfast in bed!), but now that I’ve realized how easy they are to make, they’re one of my go-to recipes for those slow, weekend mornings when I want to take my time and make something different.  (Because anything is better than my typical breakfast, a lovely yogurt al commuter rail).   Something about taking the time to chop the vegetables, whisk the eggs, and watch it all come together is very relaxing to me.   My favorite thing about these is the golden edges and peaks in the middle as the eggs and cheeses brown under the broiler, and the bright, mosaic display of veggies on the top.  The most satisfying thing is to cut into the piping hot frittata and remove a triangular piece of savory, golden-brown deliciousness.  And if you add cheese you get that heavenly, ooey-gooey cheese pull.  Yum.  This is one of the simplest, most budget-friendly dishes I know, and the end-product is pretty dang beautiful!

IMG_0171

You can also lay the vegetables on top for a more dramatic display.  Just think of what some roasted asparagus would look like…I think I know what I’m doin’ next. 

I’ve found that the best way to make frittate is to use a cast-iron skillet.  If you don’t have one of these, you can use a sauce pan – just make sure you don’t put it in the oven if they have a plastic handle!  That’s what makes a cast-iron such a great tool – being able to cook something on the stove and finish it in the oven opens up so many possibilities.  Random note: I recently came across this really helpful video (click here!) on how to use and take care of a cast-iron skillet (which made me realize everything I’ve been doing wrong, WHOOPS).

This is the first “recipe” I’m posting.  I put recipe in quotes because it’s really more of a suggested list of ingredients and steps that you can choose to follow, or not!  I personally kind of hate following recipes, and tend to use them more for getting the technical aspect down (like what temperature to set the oven at, or visual queues for when things are done cooking).  Unless I’m baking something, I don’t use conventional measurements – just keep pourin’ that olive oil or grating that cheese until it looks right.  I’m a big believer in crossing your fingers and hoping for the best!! That’s how you learn, and in my opinion it gives everything you cook a more personal touch.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons of olive oil (for the skillet)
Chopped vegetables and/or meats
Pinch of salt and pepper (plus whatever spices you feel like)
Cheese (if desired)
2 eggs per person
Splash of milk

Steps

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  2. Add the olive oil to skillet, and heat on medium-low.
  3. Once the skillet feels warm to the palm, it’s mix-in time!  If using raw meat, add that first and sauté in the olive oil.  Once cooked, remove and set aside for later.  Then sauté any vegetables.  Whatever you decide to add, make sure to season it – throw in some salt, pepper, and whatever other seasonings you feel like.
  4. While the mix-ins are cooking, whisk the eggs and milk in a bowl.  Also add any cheeses and pre-cooked meats to the eggs at this point.
  5. Add the egg mixture to the skillet, and stir to distribute the vegetables, meats, and cheeses.
  6. Leave it alone! As the frittata cooks, bubbles will start to come to the surface.  When the sides begin to solidify but the top is still runny, place the entire skillet in the oven. If you’re using a sauce pan that has any sort of plastic on it, do not put it in the oven – flip the frittata onto a plate, and then place it back in the pan to cook the other side for 4-5 minutes.
  7. Cook in the oven for around 8 minutes, or until the eggs are set.  You can test this by using a knife to cut a small slit in the middle – if there is still liquid, it needs more time.
  8. In the last minute or so, turn on the broiler and watch like a hawk.  One minute it’s yellow, the next it’s burnt! Keep checking in and remove when it gets nice and golden brown.

This is best served hot, but you can keep leftovers in the fridge for a few days. Reheating eggs might seem weird, but I promise they still taste good!

And there ya go!  This whole process takes under 30 minutes, and this is a great way to highlight seasonal vegetables and test out combinations.  My favorite way to eat frittate is with a slice of toasted bread and some fruit.  The perfect breakfast for a day off 🙂 Enjoy!

Advertisements