Tuesday, May 5, 2009


The frittata is the easy way to make an omelette. I can't remember the first recipe I ever saw for this dish, but I doubt it was authentically Italian, as the name might imply.

Over the years, in any case, I've evolved my own basic recipe, which is to fall back on if I go too long between frittatas and can't remember the proportions.

Today is Cinco de Mayo, so even though I've already published two posts today, I'll try to get this one out there and be timely for once. I forgot about the holiday for most of the day; our family hasn't usually celebrated it though the festivities are all around us here in California. It was pure happenstance that I decided that the frittata I was planning for dinner would be made with Tex-Mex flavors. Then after it was in the oven someone mentioned the holiday, and I was very pleased with my unconscious "choice." When I saw how lovely the pie looked, I whipped out my placemats that might actually look more South American than Mexican...but in any case, they looked more fitting than the everyday ones.

But back to Italy, where they have this tradition of combining eggs with vegetables and cheese in an oven-baked pancake. If you use a cast-iron skillet the result is rustically beautiful, so I always like to put it on the table for everyone to see, and cut it into wedges there.

Eggs are so nutritious and inexpensive, I like to make an egg dish for dinner once every week or two at least. Most people who eat at our house these days don't have eggs for breakfast very often, so it's not redundant to eat them in the evening.

This recipe can easily be stretched for more people, or adapted to what you have and like, by adding more eggs or vegetables, cheese, cooked potato, herbs & spices, etc. It is hard to ruin it and I rarely measure out the ingredients, except for salt, which I keep consistent at 1/8 teaspoon for every 3 eggs. This example has an Italian flavor, but you could make it Mexican, Chinese, or Middle-Eastern with a few changes.

Spinach Frittata

1 10-oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed & drained
12-13 eggs, beaten
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon oregano
black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 10-12” cast-iron skillet (or other pan of your choosing) with butter or olive oil and let it get hot in the oven, if you like, while you prepare the batter. Beat all ingredients together and pour into the pan. Bake until eggs are set and top is golden brown, 15-30 minutes depending on your pan, etc. Cut into wedges or squares to serve.

Obviously this makes enough for a big family. I usually incorporate 1-2 eggs per person, depending on their size or appetite, and sometimes add an extra one or two "for the pot," because if there are leftovers I'm happy to eat a slice for breakfast. The amount of spinach is plenty for the quantity of egg, but sometimes I use just as much spinach with only eight eggs. As I said, it's hard to ruin it. I've made versions with added ricotta cheese, crumbled bacon, and leftover greens that had been cooked with onion and garlic. And I served one at a tea party once so that we wouldn't overdose on sugary stuff.

Tonight, for my Tex-Mex Frittata ( I think the Hispanics have something that uses similar ingredients but not baked in this form, so I don't want to use their term) I used:
  • seven eggs
  • about a cup of shredded cheese, mixed jack and cheddar
  • about 2 oz. of canned diced green chiles
  • some vegetables I'd sautéed--sweet red pepper, garlic, scallions, cilantro
  • salt, chili powder and cumin to taste

After I'd heated some olive oil in an 8" cast-iron skillet, I poured in the egg mixture and put it in the oven at 450° this time, because that's the temperature that was dictated by the recipe I was trying out, Crash Hot Potatoes, thanks to Pioneer Woman at http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/ . The guys really liked these potatoes, which you can see in the photo above.

If, in addition to your veggie-laden egg pancake, you serve a steamed vegetable on the side and a tossed green salad, you might almost make up for the rest of the day when we tend to have so few vegetables. And as my husband is always reminding me: Though "experts" may debate about what is the healthiest diet, high-carb, low-carb, low-fat, low-sugar, etc., everyone but everyone agrees that we should all eat our vegetables.

No comments: