It’s like a pizza but eggy! That’s how my five-year-old (as of yesterday five-year-old!) said to his teacher this morning when asked what his favorite food at his birthday party had been. I beg to differ on the likeness to pizza but it is one of my favorite dishes. I teach it regularly in vastly different incarnations but have never written about it here.
It’s a bit like pizza in that you can adapt it endlessly and it hails from the same country but that’s about it. There’s no yeast dough to make and let rise and there’s no floury mess to clean up. Don’t get me wrong, I love pizza but don’t find myself making it when I have a hungry crowd to feed and only 20 minutes in which to prepare something.
A frittata can be as simple as the one in one of my favorite scenes in one of my favorite movies — Big Night — as in just egg and salt. The eggs are lightly beaten, seasoned and then cooked in a skillet until firm. When I experienced them being in made in Italy they were usually flipped part way through, usually with the assistance of a little crust of bread that served as the heat absorbing extension of your hand when managing the flipping maneuver. I’ve long since adopted the finishing-in-the-broiler method instead of flipping but if you’re lacking excitement in your cooking routines by all means, flip away! As a matter of fact my broiler quit working in class once a long time ago and I found myself needing to flip a 12-egg frittata in a huge cast iron skillet so if you’re lacking a broiler, you’ll get your practice in any case.
This weekend I made two frittate for my son’s birthday party: one with finely chopped, kale, onion, chili flakes and a bit of nutmeg and one with diced potatoes, sausage and fresh oregano. They really are the easiest, most portable and nourishing item to make for a party. They are delicious at room temperature and you don’t need a fork or even a plate. With the addition of meat and potatoes they are even heartier and they are the perfect foil for bits and pieces of vegetables that may be in the bottom of your crisper. Some of my favorites include lots of herbs either alone or in combination–parsley, basil, chives, thyme, tarragon, etc. And this time of year the hearty, leafy greens or leeks (with thyme and goat cheese) are my standby’s.
Leftover wedges of a frittata make a wonderful sandwich filling paired with a little arugula, a few slices of onion, and a drizzle of olive oil. If you have leftover spaghetti or other pasta (sauced or unsauced) you can chop it up a bit and saute it briefly in a skillet and pour the egg over the pasta for a perfect second incarnation. So you get the point, if you have little time and a few eggs on hand, dinner is just a matter of minutes away.
Frittata with Greens
This is one of my quickest, go-to dinners for a busy day. The options are literally infinite as to what to include. In this version you can use a lot of greens and just have the egg hold it all together or you can use less greenery and have it be more eggy—it’s really up to your taste. This is wonderful the next day in sandwiches or as a snack. It’s just as good at room temperature as it is hot.
1 bunch greens (chard, kale, collards, etc.)
1 -2 tablespoons olive oil
6-8 eggs (or whatever you have on hand or want to use)
Dash of freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes (or to taste)
1-2 ounces grated hard cheese or your choice or feta or goat cheese (optional)
Heat the oil in a heavy skillet or well-seasoned cast iron pan. Rinse the greens and remove any tough stems. If you’re using chard, remove the stem and chop finely and sauté for a few minutes before you add the greens. Cut the greens into thin ribbons (easier to handle that way and cook down more quickly). Add greens and a few pinches of salt to the pan and sauté over med-high heat until they’re tender. You may need to add a splash of water to keep them from burning and sticking. And the length of time will depend on the kind and variety of green. Most cook in about 10 minutes or less. Set your oven to broil.
Lightly whisk the eggs until they’re just broken up—no need to get them frothy or really well mixed. Add a few generous pinches of salt and several grinds of pepper, the chili flakes, and the nutmeg (if using). Pour eggs over the greens and tilt the pan to evenly distribute the eggs. Sprinkle the cheese over the top of the eggs, if using. Cover and cook on medium heat for a few minutes. When the eggs begin to set and the sides are getting firm take the pan off the heat and set under the broiler until the eggs are cooked and slightly puffed and golden. Let sit for a few minutes before cutting and serving. It will come out of the pan much more easily that way. Serve with a slice of bread and salad. Variations: Add bacon, sausage, leftover pasta, most any other veggie (sautéed leeks or onions, broccoli, potatoes, mushrooms, peppers, asparagus, spinach, diced carrot, zucchini . . .)
Happy Cooking and Eating!