Wow, that was quite a long blogging break I took. I felt guilty every day for not blogging. (I was on vacation in North Carolina with my family. It was fun. I was too busy boogie-boarding to blog.) I know a frittata isn’t the most super exciting foodstuff I could trot out after a bit of time away, but they are quite easy to make once you’ve got the technique down, and they are quite useful in using up extra summer vegetables. They keep well and can be served hot, at room temperature, or cold, so they make great next-day leftovers. (Frittata sandwiches are good.) Frittatas are just open-faced omelettes – or maybe I should say that omelettes are just folded frittatas? (Although I went to a French culinary school, I tend to side with the Italians on most food-related historical matters.) Like omelettes, frittatas are lovely because you can put all sorts of things in them – stuff you have on hand, interesting stuff you find at the farmer’s market, leftover stuff. In this recipe, I use beet tops – don’t throw them away! They are delicious! (You can cook them like spinach or swiss chard, drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and a few drops of red wine vinegar, and eat hot or at room temperature.)
A (long) note about frying pans: I have my own method of making frittatas that may or may not be Italian-approved. I use a non-stick frying pan – I realize that a lot of people are wary of using non-stick because of the chemicals involved in making the pans, so if you’re one of those people, you can use a non-non-stick frying pan. Just note that you’ll have to use extra oil or cooking spray to keep the frittata from sticking to the bottom of your pan. (I have it in my mind that as long as I don’t cook food in non-stick pans over super-high heat or in a super-high oven, I’ll be OK. This may or may not be scientifically accurate, but it’s what I tell myself.) You also must make sure that you pan is oven-proof – that is, that the handles are metal with no plastic whatsoever. Otherwise you’ll destroy both your pan and your oven, probably. And the smell of burning plastic is not yummy, not at all. You don’t need a special $90 frittata pan with hinges, or any other special equipment. In fact, I don’t even turn my frittatas, but you can if you like. (This will all become clear in a moment.) I prefer a thinner frittata, but if you like your frittatas a bit thicker, you can use a smaller-sized frying pan. You’ll have to cook your frittata a bit longer.
Last little note. Get yourself some good eggs. See in the picture how yellow the frittata is? That’s not photoshopped, my friends! It’s just the fine quality of the eggs, which I bought from a New Jersey farmer at my local farmer’s market. You will notice a huge difference in taste, color, and texture. I swear. Also – you don’t have to use the vegetables I did. Use whatever you want – spinach or chard instead of beet greens, heirloom tomatoes instead of cherry, any herb mix that tickles your fancy, peas…pretty much anything in season is good in a frittata. I used baby patty-pan squash that I sauteed first with a bit of oil and Thai chili-garlic sauce – I’ve shared the method with you below. Zucchini or yellow squash would be an excellent substitute.
(For one 10-inch diameter frittata – serves 4 for breakfast, lunch, or dinner)
For the sauteed patty-pan squash:
1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil
2-3 baby patty-pan squash, sliced thinly
1 teaspoon (or more) Thai chili-garlic sauce (you can use smooth Sriracha, but I prefer the thicker chili-garlic sauce) or other hot sauce with 1/2 clove of finely chopped garlic
For the frittata:
6 fresh eggs
1 tablespoon milk (skim milk is OK)
3-4 large beet green leaves, tough stems discarded, washed and chopped
3/4 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
1-2 tablespoons mixed chopped herbs – I used a combination of basil, mint, parsley, and chives
Sauteed patty-pan squash (see above)
Other vegetables or greens, as desired (I threw in some arugula flowers from my garden) (optional)
1 tablespoon Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (optional)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (or more, see note above about pans)
Kosher salt and freshly-ground pepper
Special Equipment: 10-inch diameter non-stick oven-proof frying pan (see note about pans above), a rubber spatula
For the sauteed patty-pan squash:
- Heat the oil in a small, heavy sauté pan over very high heat until hot, but not smoking.
- Add the patty-pan squash and sauté over high heat until the squash is browned in spots, but still a bit firm – 1-2 minutes.
- Turn the heat down to medium and stir in the chili-garlic sauce (or add the garlic clove and the hot sauce), stir for 30 seconds, then immediately remove from heat.
- Cool before adding to the frittata “batter”.
For the frittata:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the milk and a generous pinch of salt until the eggs are uniform (i.e., you can’t distinguish between the yolks and the whites).
- Stir in the beet greens, tomatoes, herbs, cooled squash, any other vegetable your heart desires, and the optional cheese. Add a few grindings of black pepper. Stir gently to combine evenly. (Some of the heavier vege like the tomatoes will sink to the bottom. This is OK.)
- Heat the olive oil over medium heat in your skillet. When hot (but not smoking – never smoking) add the egg mixture.
- Stir the mixture with a rubber spatula until the mixture starts to set, taking care to distribute the vegetables evenly if they’ve migrated to one side of the pan or another. Stop stirring when you see the edges of the eggs start to set. This will take a varying amount of time depending on your pan and your heat source.
- When the eggs have set 3-4 inches in from the edge of the pan (i.e., the eggs are set around the outside, but there is still a round jiggly bit in the middle), remove from the stovetop and stick in the oven. At this point, if you’re using a smaller pan, you might want to consider flipping the frittata. (I never do because it’s a pain and the egg mixture sets up just fine without flipping, but it’s up to you.)
- Cook the frittata in the oven until the center is set. This will also take a varying amount of time – start checking after 5 minutes. When you shake the pan, you should see absolutely no jiggle action in the center of the egg mixture.
- Carefully remove the pan from the oven (remember the handle will be super hot) and immediately slide the frittata from the pan onto a cutting board or plate. (This is where using a non-stick pan is useful.) If not using non-stick, you may need to loosen the edges of the frittata with your rubber spatula.
- Cut the frittata into wedges and serve hot or at room temperature. Extra hot sauce on the side is nice.