Nonnas Kitchen Chair
Let's Begin With Vegetable Frittata
Updated: Nov 19, 2019
In future posts, we will go on to other wonderful egg specialties from France, Japan, China, Iran, Mexico - really exploring similar, but excitingly different, egg dishes from all over the world.
One of the first things I remember making with Nonna was FRITTATA! We had it for dinner on Fridays often. Since we did not eat meat that day, and did not always have fish, we had vegetarian meals like this, or lentils with pasta (which we'll cover in a future post).
During my early childhood, I remember Nonna raising her own chickens and having fresh eggs and chicken for the family. Later, she ordered eggs, milk and other farm produce delivered to the ranch from other farmers, and, after that, she learned to drive herself to the market!
I believe frittata is one of the best dishes for looking at how different cultures prepare a vegetarian dish using eggs. It's also wonderful for its ever changing ingredients depending upon: what's fresh in the garden that day (e.g.,vegetables, herbs, surprises!) what's leftover from last night's dinner, what was fresh at the market that day or what the family likes to eat.
So let's start with Nonna's concept, a few crazy quilt variation ideas, and after this post, I invite you all to share your favorites - whether it's an Omelette, Okinomyaki, Egg Foo Yung, Ku Ku Sabzi, Huevos Frito con Pisto, or a delicious fusion idea.
A Family Frittata Recipe
3-4 T olive oil (depending upon how many additions you are making to the frittata)
1/4 C grated Parmesan or Romano Cheese (my favorite)
1/2 C lightly sautéed yellow onion
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1 small sliced zucchini (cooked), (or) 3/4 lb tender asparagus trimmed and sliced into 3/4 inch pieces (if thick, slice in half lengthwise) - cooked
1 C cooked and drained and squeezed spinach, chopped
Several slices of boiled potato
3/4 t dried herbs (I use a good quality Italian Herb Combo)
Possible Additions or substitutes:
Fresh herbs for garnish
(Preheat your broiler now if you will be using this method to brown the top of your frittata)
Place olive oil, vegetables of choice and fresh ground pepper into appropriate sized skillet to accommodate them in one layer on low heat until most of the oil is absorbed. (I try to place the potatoes and zucchini down first so that they start taking on a little browning and are evenly dispersed. I sprinkle the onion all around and poke the spinach in between everything with a chopstick so that it will peek through when the frittata is flipped later.)
In a separate bowl have eggs beaten with salt, herbs, and cheese. I prefer a good Pecorino Romano, but most Americans, I think, prefer Parmesan. It's really a matter of personal taste, so choose what you like and go for it.
Pour egg mixture slowly around the edges of pan first and end with the center. Then, tilt the pan as the eggs cook, lifting the edges with a fork or small utensil as you tilt to allow the raw egg to seep under.
Once the bottom is golden, there are two methods to brown the top. You may flip the frittata, by covering the pan with an inverted plate flipping it onto the plate and slipping it back into the pan. Or you can put it under the pre-heated broiler for three or four minutes to brown the top (watching carefully to not over brown it).
A couple of notes to save time: I usually cook extra vegetables whenever cook them, because I use them in so many ways later. However, if you are ready to make a frittata and don't have cooked asparagus or zucchini, you can prep them and pop them into the microwave with a little water for a minute or two. Drain thoroughly on paper towels and they will be ready to go.
I often cook my spinach in olive oil with garlic and that adds additional flavor to frittata later. One more thing, I place the sliced zucchini and potato in hot oil to brown a bit. I poke the coarsely chopped spinach down around the vegetables with a chopstick, before turning the heat way down, sprinkling the onions over and begin pouring the egg/cheese/herb mixture over. and, before I forget, we LOVE frittata the next day!