Frittata — Veloce e Frugale

January 23, 2009

(“Fast and Frugal”)

Damn, I love frittatas.

In our ever budget conscious and frenetically paced world, there may be no better plate than a simple, rustic frittata. Frittatas are closely related to omelets, but instead of being gently folded on a skillet, they are served open and flat—more like its cousin, the tortilla española. At first, they are partially cooked in a pan over low heat and then finished under the broiler until firm. A wide array of “fillings” and cheeses are used which alter the heft and character of each frittata, ranging from simple herbs to heartier fare such as ham or sausage. Better yet, raid your refrigerator leftovers for frittata morsels.

Frittatas are often served just slightly warm or more often at room temperature; they can be served as an anytime meal — brunch, lunch, light dinner, midnight fare and are a fine match with a salad or even used as a sandwich filling.

SPINACH & MUSHROOM FRITTATA

1 1/2 T extra virgin olive oil

4 C loosely packed fresh spinach leaves, rinsed, dried and cut into thin ribbons
1 C sliced crimini mushrooms or stemmed and sliced shiitake mushrooms

8 large organic, free range eggs
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Slight dollop of heavy whipping cream
Pinch of cayenne pepper
A fresh sparse grating of nutmeg

1/2 C gruyère cheese, freshly shredded
1 C freshly grated parmigianno-reggiano cheese divided in two equal parts

Preheat the broiler.

Sauté the sliced mushrooms and leeks in butter and some olive oil, salt and pepper, then slowly cool them to room temperature—so the mushrooms and leeks do not cook the egg mixture with their ambient heat.

Crack the eggs into a large bowl and beat lightly with a wire whisk. Add the salt, peppers, nutmeg, spinach, leeks, mushrooms, half the parmigiano-reggiano, then beat and combine those ingredients.

In a 9″ ovenproof non-stick omelet pan or skillet, heat the oil over moderate heat, swirling the pat to coat the bottom and sides evenly. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the frittata mixture. Reduce the heat to low and cook slowly, stirring the top part of the mixture, but allowing the bottom to set until the egg mixture has begun to form small curds and the frittata is browning on the bottom (4-5 minutes). With a spatula, gently loosen the the frittata from the edges of the pan. Sprinkle with the remaining parmigiano-reggiano and the gruyère.

Transfer the skillet to the broiler, placing it about 6″ from the heating element, and broil until the frittata browns lightly on top. It will puff up and become firm in about 3-4 minutes, but watch carefully as ovens differ. However, take care to not open the oven too often during the process as the resulting drop in temperatures affects the cooking process.

Remove the pan from the broiler, give it a slight fresh grate of parmiggiano-reggiano, and let it cool for at least couple of minutes, allowing it to set. Next, either slide or preferably invert the frittata onto a flat plate.

A chilled, crisp sauvignon blanc makes a toothsome companion.

Yield: 4 servings

Pourboire: For an even more robust version, consider adding sauteed pancetta and/or 1 cup thinly sliced leeks (white and pale green parts only) or grated zucchini to the egg mixture. As always, think fresh seasonal greens, such as red or white chard, turnip, collard or mustard greens.

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