Frittatas take eggs into the dinner hour
Versatile dish is dead easy to prepare
The experience of cooking my first frittata is forever seared in my memory.
I was new to cooking, you see, and proud that I’d been able to follow the recipe for what is, in effect, a rustic Italian omelette that you start on the stove and finish in the oven, where it puffs up beautifully all on its own.
It’s dead easy to make: The food writer Laurie Colwin described a frittata as a dish so simple that a person could cook it halfasleep.
Although some people think of eggs solely as breakfast or brunch fare, a frittata makes a fine dinner by adding salad, bread and a few simply cooked vegetables. Frittatas are versatile enough to be eaten hot, warm, at room temperature or even cold.
“I like frittatas best when they are freshly made, with a salad, or on a pool of light tomato sauce or sandwiched between split focaccia,” writes Judy Rodgers, author of The Zuni Café Cookbook (2002).
Use only very fresh eggs, she counselled, so that they “remain thick and viscous after a brief beating.”
A frittata can also be “a most accommodating host, happy to provide a home to all sorts of leftovers, from cooked potatoes and other vegetables to roast pork or chicken and every kind of
I like frittatas best when they are freshly made JUDY RODGERS, AUTHOR OF THE ZUNI CAFÉ COOKBOOK
grated cheese,” writes Irish celebrity chef Rachel Allen in her recipe for a spinach, bacon and Gruyère frittata in Rachel’s Everyday Kitchen (HarperCollins).
Perhaps it’s the fact that cooking is slowed once the eggs are added that makes it feel like a more substantial dish than an omelette, the British cookery and travel writer Patience Gray suggested in her book, Honey From a Weed (1986).
To make the Frittata di Zucchini she included in the book, she’d wash, dry and dice three or four zucchini and a small onion, then sauté them on medium-high until brown.
She’d beat four eggs in a bowl with a bit of salt, pepper, some finely chopped parsley, a teaspoon (5 mL) of bread crumbs and a teaspoon (5 mL) of grated Parmesan. She then poured the mixture over the vegetables and reduced the heat. Within a few minutes, the frittata would have almost set.
Many authors whose recipes I studied believe that frittata flipping is unnecessary.
“Forget any rumours of scary flipping,” writes Susie Middleton, chef, recipe developer and food writer in The Fresh & Green Table (Chronicle Books). “Here’s all you do: Whisk up the custard, veggie and cheese mixture in a big bowl; heat a combo of butter and olive oil in a heavy skillet; pour and scrape the mixture in and let it brown for a minute on the bottom.
Pop the skillet in a hot oven, then wait for it to get golden and puffy — about 25 minutes.”
Simmons provides two hints on flavouring eggs: Season them well before cooking to bring out their flavour. And be generous with fresh, tender herbs. Think of using them in measures of tablespoons, even quarter cups.
“Eggs,” Simmons writes, “love cilantro — and mint, basil and chives, too.”
The sharp, salty cheese makes a flavour statement in the Potato Frittata With Feta and Green Onions.
Two secrets to cooking frittatas: Use only very fresh eggs and season them well before cooking to bring out their flavour.