Most cuisines have some form of a baked egg dish. The French have the quiche, the Spanish have their Tortilla, and the Italians have the Frittata. Scramble eggs, add some sauteed vegetables and fresh herbs, pop it in the oven and voila! A light, puffy, unfolded omelet. You can use up leftovers in a new and interesting way. Serve pasta with Marinara sauce one night and the next evening serve the same ingredients in a frittata. It may seem a bit strange to combine pasta and eggs, but it lets you use fewer eggs, saving you money, and it is delicious!
When I have had a long and tiring day, it is hard to think about coming home and working for another hour or two in the kitchen getting dinner ready. Being able to utilize things already made and in the refrigerator is very appealing. Eggs are good for us, full of vitamins and protein, and they cook very quickly. That sounds perfect to me!
To add some interest to my Marinara Sauce for this recipe, I like to add chipotle to get a little heat and a nice smoky flavor. You can use chipotle powder or use a terrific product from Rick Bayless’ company Frontera Kitchen, Chipotle Hot Sauce. His commitment to quality ingredients is clearly evident in all of his sauces, salsas, and other goods. If you can’t find these products at your grocery store, you can order them online.
When I have guests over, this is one of the best types of breakfasts to serve them. It looks super fancy but is really simple to make. They feel special and pampered, and it is a great way to start the day! You can add coffeecake, some fresh fruit, fried potatoes, and a glass of juice. They will have plenty of energy to go exploring or whatever else we have planned.
In the springtime I love to add asparagus and Swiss cheese. In the summer when heirloom tomatoes are coming out your ears, combine them with some bok choy and green onions. In the autumn when you feel the first frost in the air, try mushrooms and Swiss chard. And in the winter when you curl up in front of the fire, potatoes, leeks, and peppers will help warm you. Any time of the year is the perfect time for frittatas.
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
Over cooked eggs are tough, rubbery, and unpleasant to eat. Most of us cook our eggs too long and it isn’t until you have properly cooked eggs that you even know the difference. Pull them off the heat before you think they are finished and let the residual heat in the pan do the rest. You will be surprised how luscious they can be!
Kitchen Skill: Cutting an Onion
Why: In this recipe I ask you to cut the onions to match the size of the chopped chiles. This makes it easier to cook everything evenly, is more attractive, and no one likes to bite into large uncooked pieces of onion!
How: Make sure your knife is very sharp and cut onion in half through the root end. Peel half and store the rest, wrapped well in plastic, in the refrigerator. Hold the onion with your fingers turned under (creating a “C” shape), keep the flat of knife blade against your knuckles, and you won’t cut your fingers! Make about 5 vertical cuts, perpendicular to the root, about the width of the chopped chiles. Turn onion and slice across the grain (parallel to the root) into neat squares.
- Smoky Marinara Sauce
- 3/4 cup of Aunt Jane’s Killer Marinara Sauce or your favorite pasta sauce
- 1 tbsp Frontera’s Chipotle Hot Sauce or 1/2 tsp ground chipotle pepper
- 8 large eggs
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
- 4 tsp olive oil or butter, divided
- 1 orange or red bell pepper, seeded and chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
- 1/2 medium onion, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
- 1 small, thin zucchini, sliced
- 2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
- 4 oz cooked pancetta or sliced ham, cut into 1/2" cubes (about 3/4 cup), optional
- 3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup leftover al dente cooked pasta, such as spaghetti, fettuccine, or fusilli
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 6 to 8 large fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade
- Make the Sauce: Combine all marinara and hot sauce or chipotle in a pot and warm gently over low heat. Keep warm until frittata is ready to serve. This can be done several days ahead and kept in the refrigerator.
- Adjust oven rack to top of oven. Preheat broiler to high.
- Make the Frittata: Heat 2 tsp oil or butter in a 10-inch nonstick oven safe skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add bell peppers, onions, and zucchini, and cook until translucent and softened, about 4 minutes. Add tomatoes and cooked pancetta or ham and saute until tomato has softened slightly, about 2 minutes. Take off the heat and cool slightly.
- Meanwhile, combine the two cheeses and set aside. If you are using a shaped pasta such as fusilli (corkscrews), roughly chop so you don’t have huge pieces of pasta.
- Whisk eggs, salt and pepper in a medium bowl until well combined. Stir in about 3/4 of the cheese, the cooked pasta, the vegetables, pancetta or ham, and oregano.
- Wipe out skillet with a paper towel and add another 2 tsp oil or butter. Heat until shimmering. Add egg mixture to skillet and cook, using a spatula to stir the eggs until they have started to thicken but are still very loose. Stop stirring for 30 seconds to set the bottom. Lift the sides gently with a rubber spatula, tip the pan, and let the loose egg run under the cooked egg. When nearly cooked through, 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 be slightly wet in the center. Remove from the oven and set on stove. The residual heat in the pan will finish cooking the eggs.
- Shake pan to loosen frittata and slide onto a cutting board or serving platter. Cut into wedges, sprinkle with basil chiffonade, and serve with Spicy Marinara Sauce.
- Yield: about 3 to 4 servings