Frit­tatas take eggs into the din­ner hour

Ver­sa­tile dish is dead easy to pre­pare

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - Weekend Life - SU­SAN SCHWARTZ

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.”

Ap­petite by Ran­dom House

The sharp, salty cheese makes a flavour state­ment in the Potato Frit­tata With Feta and Green Onions.

For the Cal­gary Herald

Two se­crets to cook­ing frit­tatas: Use only very fresh eggs and sea­son them well be­fore cook­ing to bring out their flavour.

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