Fantastic Frittata

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Spring is most definitely upon us now, and the braver souls among us are already dining al fresco for dinner, lunch and even brunch. And for those hosting brunches at home, one of the best things to serve your guests is a beautiful, savoury and delicious frittata.

A frittata is an Italian egg dish, similar to an omelette or a quiche without a crust. The good news for the average home cook is that they are almost foolproof; no finicking with pastry, no chef sniffing over your shoulder ready to boot you out of Le Cordon Bleu if you muss up the perfect omelette.

 

Asparagus and goat cheese

Asparagus and goat cheese

 

The eggs in a frittata are beaten more vigorously for a frittata than an omelette, incorporating more air and resulting in more loft; this is essential as a frittata will have a number of ingredients added to it and distributed throughout, unlike an omelette, where the exciting ingredients are sort of folded into a little packet. Some recipes call for heavy cream to be added to the eggs- about a quarter of a cup of cream for every six eggs- to give it a custard-like quality similar to quiche, while others call for eggs only so that you get an omelette-like texture. Another difference is that frittatas are baked for about fifteen minutes rather than fried on the stovetop, preferably in a cast iron frying pan, in a moderate oven which will set the bottom of the dish nicely and leave the top still lovely and soft, sort of like an open-faced omelette. Some folks who prefer top of the dish a little firmer elect to place it under a broiler for a minute or two to set it a little more and give it a bit of a crust. The pan is taken out of the oven and the frittata may be served on the table still in the pan, or sliced into triangles like a pizza.

 

squash blossom frittata

squash blossom frittata

 

The really great thing about a frittata is that there is literally no limit to the ingredients you can put into it; meats, cheeses, fresh vegetables; all work beautifully and make a visually pleasing dish. Another wonderful thing is a frittata is one of the best dishes to use last night’s leftovers in a delightful and delicious way; maybe you have a little cooked rapini left over, and a few cherry tomatoes and just a little scrap of goat cheese or a little chunk of ham, or parm, or spicy Italian or Chinese sausage. Once you get the hang of it you’ll be dreaming up delicious combos in your sleep. How about potato and leek frittata like this one by Martha Stewart, or maybe a classic spinach and feta combination? Asparagus and goat cheese with fresh herbs, mushrooms and wild garlic…coming up with inventive combos is almost as much fun as making and eating them.

 

a classic combo: tomato, fresh basil and mozzarella

a classic combo: tomato, fresh basil and mozzarella, a perfect dinner for a Meatless Monday

 

So the next time you are humming and hawing about what to serve for brunch-or lunch or dinner, for that matter- and wondering how to use up those delicious little tidbits still in the fridge, look no further than the fantastic frittata.

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