QSR: Linguini Frittata

July 1, 2010

Teach your children well,
Their father’s hell did slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picked, the one you’ll know by.

~Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Admittedly, this creature comfort food could well be born of the sophomoric culinary loins of Rachel Ray or Sandra Lee, but it does bind some basics—linguini, cheeses, bacon, and eggs.

As an aside, did you see the ever color coordinated, semi-homemade SL’s lasagne recipe replete with Campbell’s condensed canned tomato soup, pre-minced garlic, dried oregano, cottage cheese and a pkg of already shredded mozzarella? Not only a Roman nightmare, but a heinous breach of food ethics. Even her lover’s mama and soon to be in-law, Matilda Cuomo, was pointedly disparaging. “That’s not how you make a lasagna,” she bluntly offered.

Linguini frittata is a fast food alternative to those calorie laden, sodium packed, fat fraught cardboard boxes of hazmat mac & powdered cheese served your offspring all the while meticulously regulating your fad diet to maintain that anorexic, x-ray figure…still openly professing your selfless love for them.

Express kidling or adult après quoi-woi-woi-woi eats.

LINGUINI FRITTATA WITH PANCETTA

1 lb dried linguini
Sea salt

4 thick slices imported pancetta or high quality slab bacon, cut into 1″ pieces for lardons

8 farm fresh large eggs
A dollop of heavy whipping cream
Fresh thyme leaves, stemmed and finely chopped
1 C parmigiano reggiano, grated

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 T extra virgin olive oil
3 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

1/4 C gruyère, shredded

Preheat broiler to high.

Cook the pasta in liberally salted boiling water until close to al dente. Drain well and empty into a large mixing bowl. Set aside and allow to cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, cook the pancetta or bacon lardons in a large, heavy skillet until rendered and beginning to crisp. Remove to paper towels and drain.

Whisk the eggs and cream, add them to the cooled pasta, and mix carefully yet thoroughly. Stir in the grated parmigiano reggiano, pancetta, salt, pepper and thyme to taste. Pepper liberally as you would carbonara.

Heat a heavy large ovenproof non-stick skillet over medium high heat, and add the olive oil and smashed garlic. Before the garlic turns too brown, remove and discard. With the olive oil still hot, pour in the linguini mixture and spread it evenly in the hot skillet, shaking the pan so it settles. Cook until the underside is golden brown, about 5-8 minutes or so. Strew some gruyère evenly over the top of the linguini mixture. Place the skillet under the broiler about 5″-6″ from the element and cook until slightly golden and the eggs are set, about 3-5 minutes.

Remove from oven and slide the frittata onto a large platter cutting board and allow to cool some. Slice into wedges and serve warm, room temp or chilled.

Pourboire: as an alternative, consider using orzo as the pasta in this recipe.

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La lengua es la piel del alma (Language is the skin of the soul)
~Fernando Lázaro Carreter

“Yes, we want!”

Intended to parallel the campaign motto of president Obama, this slogan has appeared on buses and billboards and in television and radio commercials across Madrid promoting a bilingual school initiative.  Unfortunately, the phrase used to encourage English fluency is improper because “Yes, we want!” should have a direct object following the verb. Linguists and educators are dismayed that promoters have abandoned the grammatically correct for the impact that the publicity slogan might have on voters. The advertising campaign, which was launched this month at a cost of 1.8M euros, is aimed at showing that children are keen to join the bilingual program at primary and secondary state schools across the region.   

On to grub. Spanish cheeses are commonly made from sheep’s milk because much of the cheese producing region is rocky and arid—inhospitable to bovines yet suitable for goats and sheep.

Spain’s most notable cheese, Manchego, is made of sheep’s milk from the dry, elevated La Mancha plateau in the central region of the country. Firm but not dry, it has a black, gray or buff colored rind with a zigzag pattern, and the interior ranges from stark white to yellowish, depending on age. Manchego has an even distribution of a few small holes and a zesty and exuberant, nutty flavor which quietly lingers on your palate.

Murcia al Vino, sometimes known as “Drunken Goat” is a wine-washed cheese crafted from goat’s milk. The Murcia region in southeast Spain has a an abundant variety of grasses, shrubs, and wild herbs on which the goat’s graze which imparts distinctive flavors and aromas. The immersion in local wines gives the rind its characteristic burgundy color, imparting a slightly floral bouquet. Murcia’s distinctive yet subtle lemony-peppery flavor and supple satiny body are divinely rewarding.

A slight Spanish spin on the frittata theme with its Italian provenance…

FRITTATA SPAGNOLO

3/4 C serrano ham, cut into small juliennes (matchsticks)
1 C wild mushrooms (e.g., porcinis, chanterelles, morels), roughly chopped

1 1/2 T extra virgin olive oil

8 large organic, free range eggs
Dollop of heavy whipping cream
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper

1 T fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
1 T fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped

1/3 C manchego, freshly grated
3/4 C murcia al vino, freshly grated and divided into two equal parts

Preheat the broiler.

In a heavy, large skillet, briefly sauté the ham in a small amount of olive oil and set aside until it reaches room temperature. Add some more olive oil and sauté mushrooms until lightly browned and softened some. Set mushrooms aside, so they may reach room temperature as well.

Crack the eggs into a large bowl, add the cream, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper; then beat lightly with a wire whisk. Add the herbs, ham, mushrooms and half the murcia al vino, then whisk some further to combine those ingredients.

In a heavy 9″ ovenproof non-stick omelet pan or skillet, heat the oil over moderate heat, swirling 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 murcia al vino and the fontina.

Transfer the skillet to the broiler, placing it about 5″-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 temperature affects the cooking process.

Remove the pan from the broiler, and let it cool for at least couple of minutes, allowing it to set. Next, either slide or preferably invert the frittata onto a large flat plate.

Much Virtue in Herbs, little in Men.
~Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac

Time to make hay while the herb sun shines.

Revisiting the frittata (see Frittata—Veloce e Frugale, 01.23.09) is a natural given my egg worship—reaching almost pentecostal fervor—coupled with the summer gardens and local markets brimming with fresh herbs.

My adoration of cheese could be described as decidedly catholic. Here, the object of my affection is fontina, a semi-soft cow’s milk cheese, which comes from the Val d’Aosta region in the Italian Alps near the borders of France and Switzerland. Dense, smooth and slightly elastic, Fontina has a straw-colored interior with minute round holes and a rich, almost sweet, earthy nuttiness. It melts gracefully.

FRESH HERB & TWO CHEESE FRITTATA

1 1/2 T extra virgin olive oil

8 large organic, free range eggs
Dollop of heavy whipping cream
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Trace pinch of cayenne pepper

Herbs
1/2 C fresh parsley leaves
1/2 C fresh basil leaves
1/2 C fresh arugula leaves, cut into ribbons
1 T fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 T fresh sage leaves, chopped

1/3 C fontina Val d’Aosta, freshly grated
1 C parmigianno-reggiano, freshly grated and divided in two equal parts

Preheat the broiler.

Crack the eggs into a large bowl, add the cream, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper; then beat lightly with a wire whisk. Add the herbs and half the parmigiano-reggiano, then whisk some further to combine those ingredients.

In a heavy 9″ ovenproof non-stick omelet pan or skillet, heat the oil over moderate heat, swirling 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 parmigianno-reggiano and the fontina.

Transfer the skillet to the broiler, placing it about 5″-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 temperature affects the cooking process.

Remove the pan from the broiler, give it a slight fresh grating 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.

(“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.