One of my favorite meals to make is a frittata. Most people are very familiar with omelets but many don’t know about frittatas. They are halfway between an omelet and a quiche. The fillings are stirred into the eggs like a quiche instead of folded inside an omelet. But a frittata doesn’t have the crust that a quiche has so it is even easier to make. It is a great way to use up the half onion and last 2 tomatoes you have leftover and any other vegetables you want to add. At this time of the year asparagus is plentiful and gorgeous – I can’t get enough – so I highlighted it in this recipe. If you want you can also add some chopped ham, bacon, or sausage. Just remember that all the additions need to be cooked before adding them to the eggs. If you have leftover cooked pasta, that works well too. There really is no limit to the variations you can come up with for this dinner!
Since frittatas were originated in Italy, if you want to take this in an Italian direction, you can serve it draped with marinara sauce. If you like a little heat, try some salsa instead. For even more heat you can pass a bottle of Tabasco or Sriracha. This would even be interesting with a light curry cream sauce. What sauce would you choose or would you leave it plain?
Many frittata recipes call for you to slide it out of the pan, flip it over and put it back in the pan to cook the other side. This is way too much work for me, so I finish mine in the oven for a few minutes. I also like the gentle heat of the oven which helps keep the eggs creamy.
My recipe calls for Monterey Jack and cheddar cheeses, but you can change these too. If you like feta, you can use that or another goat cheese. Gruyere, Manchego, and ricotta would also work. For a wet cheese like ricotta, either use ricotta salata or set it in a colander to drain most of the liquid before using. Some Parmesan sprinkled over the top would also be delicious.
I like the flavor of red, orange, or yellow bell peppers but do not care for the green ones. They are too assertive for my palate and bother many people’s digestive tracks. Roasted poblanos would be outstanding in here, giving a nice smoky chile flavor to the eggs. But because I love the asparagus so much, I like to use ingredients that will let it stand out.
If you are serving a crowd, especially if there will be a lot of children coming, you can make these into individual servings. Cook the vegetables as directed and divide equally among muffin tins. Beat the eggs together with seasonings in a large measuring cup with a spout. Then carefully fill the muffin tins to 3/4 full. Bake until they are puffed and golden on top and are fairly firm to the touch.
These are an obvious choice for breakfast or brunch, but I like them equally as well served for dinner. And because these don’t have meat in them, they are good for Fridays during Lent. If you are watching your cholesterol, you can leave out half of the yolks and add one additional egg white. When you’ve had a long, hard day at work and want something quick and easy for dinner, consider throwing together a frittata!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
Buying a good skillet doesn’t have to be intimidating. There are a few things you want to look for. You want the skillet to be fairly heavy for its size and the bottom should be thicker than the sides, which will give it a solid base to insulate cooking foods. A heavier pan will also distribute the heat more evenly so you don’t have hot spots and burning as you do with cheap pans. You always want a metal handle so you can transfer it to the oven when needed. There will always be a debate between non-stick and regular finished pans. I have both. When I want a good sear or am making a sauce, I use the regular pan. When I am cooking delicate things like eggs and fish, the non-stick is my go-to.
My favorite pan is made by Calphalon and is a 10-inch non-stick skillet (I am usually only cooking for two). I own two of them and make sure I never heat them above medium-high. Calphalon has an unbeatable deal. They are offering two omelet pans, a 10 inch and a 12 inch, for the unbelievable price of less than $50! That is two pans for less than the normal cost of one! I own them and love them!! You can buy the lids separately, or buy a universal lid that works on any pan from 8 inches to 12 inches.
Jane Evans Bonacci © 2009
Yield: 4 servings
3 tbsp butter, divided
1 small onion
1 medium shallot
1 large bell pepper
1 to 2 tsp dried oregano or fresh thyme leaves
1 bunch asparagus
2 oz Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
2 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Adjust oven rack to top of oven. Preheat broiler to high.
Heat 1 tbsp of the butter in a 10-inch nonstick oven safe skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onions, shallots and bell pepper and cook until translucent and softened, about 2 minutes. Add oregano and asparagus and cook until softened slightly, about 2 minutes. Take off the heat, transfer to a bowl and cool slightly. If you are using fresh herbs, add them after you take the pan off the heat.
While the vegetables are cooking, combine the two cheeses and set aside. Whisk eggs, salt and pepper in a medium bowl until well combined. Stir in about half of the cheese and the slightly cooled vegetables. Whisk until evenly combined.
Wipe out skillet with a paper towel and add another 2 tbsp of butter. Heat over medium heat until it bubbles. Add egg mixture to skillet and cook, using a rubber spatula to stir the eggs until they have started to thicken but are still very loose. Stop stirring and let cook undisturbed for 30 seconds to set the bottom. Sprinkle the top with remaining cheese.
Put pan under broiler and cook until eggs have puffed up and top is lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Eggs should still jiggle and be slightly wet. Remove from the oven and allow the residual heat in the pan finish cooking the eggs.
Shake pan to loosen frittata and slide onto a cutting board or serving platter. Use a rubber spatula if needed to loosen the frittata. Cut into wedges and serve hot, garnished with fresh herbs if you have them.
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