Tuesday 5 March 2013
Frittata (the perfect leftovers dish)
I was making a frittata for dinner last night and at the last minute I decided to take a few pictures so I could share this with you. Frittatas are an Italian egg dish similar to an open face omelette that gets finished in the oven. I've seen some frittata recipes where it is baked the whole way through. I've never tried that. I'm just a creature of my own habit. I like to cook it on the stove over a medium low heat for a few minutes until the egg is almost set completely and then finish it under a broiler.
You can add anything you want to a frittata like vegetables, cheeses, meats, herbs, etc... making them perfect for using up any leftover ingredients you have. I like to keep them simple with 2-3 main ingredients but you're in charge of your frittata. It's not particularly fancy, in my opinion, but it's quick, healthy and versatile. It makes a great breakfast, lunch or dinner and pairs great with a nice salad and maybe some toasty bread. For these reasons, frittatas are something of a staple in my life. I don't know why I've never thought of blogging about them until now.
I had a small bunch of spinach that was on its last legs so I picked up some Canadian feta ($3) at a cheese monger on my street and then I had everything that I needed for this. Not bad! You never have to make the same frittata twice but spinach and feta is a favourite of mine. Depending on the size of your pan and the desired thickness, you can use anywhere from three to a dozen eggs (or more). In this example I used eight eggs in a 14-inch pan. A pan with a lid is best but you don't necessarily need one. You will need a pan that has no plastic parts or anything that can't withstand the heat of your oven. These are steamy and therefore very hot when they come out of the oven. They are best when cooled to just warm or even room temperature. This may not appeal to you but I often eat it cold for breakfast if there is any leftover.
Because this is so versatile and depends on the size of the skillet you use, this is more of a technique than a recipe. With that in mind, let's go over it.
I warmed a non-stick skillet over medium heat with a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Then I added a little minced garlic and red onion with some salt and pepper. Let the onions and garlic sweat for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally. If you want your onion to caramelize, add the garlic a few minutes after. Garlic burns easily and becomes bitter.
When the onion starts to go translucent, turn the heat down to low and add chopped spinach leaves. The spinach will only to take a couple of minutes to wilt.
At this point you should already have your eggs beaten in a bowl with a bit of liquid like water or milk. For eight eggs, I used a couple tablespoons or so. This may seem like an insignificant step, but the liquid loosens the eggs a bit, helps it to steam as it cooks and creates a light and fluffy frittata. Season the egg mixture as you wish.
Turn the heat up to medium-medium-low (if that makes sense). Pour the eggs over the sautéed vegetables, give it a quick mix if necessary, and use a wooden spoon to pull the egg in a bit around the outside, frequently, until the sides start to set. Then put a lid over the pan if you have one, and leave it alone. Seriously. Don't touch it. Keep an eye on it, mind you, but don't mess around with it. The egg will slowly cook and begin to firm up.
After five to eight minutes, the egg will be almost completely set. When you move the pan only the top should wiggle a little bit and not around the outside. This is when you add your cheese if you're using it. If you throw it in with the eggs they will sink to the bottom, which will still be delicious, but not look quite as nice.
Now is the time to place the frittata under a hot broiler. This will finish the top and ever so lightly toast the face of the frittata. Keep an eye on it, but it should only take about 2-3 minutes.
The top should just barely be golden brown, but the bottom will be golden and toasty. Not burnt, but form a very light crust. The inside will be light and fluffy. I can't tell you how amazing spinach and feta is in this technique, but you can add just about anything you wish. This is a very versatile dish. You could serve a salad on top of it, or cut it into triangles and serve a salad on the side. Or in my case, if you don't have many vegetables on hand, just set it next to some alfalfa sprouts and parsley. lol
There you have it. That's a frittata. I'm not even going to say "I hope you give this a try" because you just should. End of story. It is a quality, light meal that you can create out of next to nothing. What are you waiting for?