Sometimes it slips our mind to share the most iconic recipes with you because, well, you forget that they're worth mentioning. That's not to say we think classic recipes are junk but more so that some recipes are so part of our cooking DNA that we assume we've already share a recipe for it.
Case in point? We didn't have a recipe for a Paloma Cocktail or for Focaccia until very recently. Another such recipe is a frittata! The open faced egg dish is to Italy what scrambled eggs are to France -- simple, classic fare that can be heavenly when done right.
Personally, I never put a pen to paper for a frittata recipe until I sat down to write Keys To The Kitchen Cookbook. That's because I've always had a sort of formula for frittata memorized: as in, 8 large eggs beaten together with a heapful of grated cheese and cooked on the stovetop then in the oven in a 9-to-10-inch pan.
But, once I started developing the recipe, I realized I had a lot to say about what does (and doesn't) make a good frittata. That's not to say that a frittata should ever be overly-complicated or that it's hard to make but more so that a few key tips will make your frittata go from good to great.
Though you don't see frittata on many Italian restaurant menus, it is a decidedly Italian dish. It's a recipe that gets made when you are trying to use up leftovers, make a quick breakfast, have a simple dinner, or even to treat a hangover! The history of the frittata is a bit murky but it's believed that it came from the Persian egg, spinach, and herb dish known as kuku.
As for the difference between other classic egg dishes like a French omelet or a Spanish tortilla, it comes down to technique more than anything else. A frittata is commonly cooked in a pan and then either flipped over to finish or put under the broiler for something that resembles more an open-face omelet than anything else.
Honestly, making a frittata is pretty simple but here are a few tips to make it even easier and more delicious:
Seriously though, the types of frittata are endless! For classic breakfast flavors, add in potatoes and spinach; for Spring flavors, combine asparagus, peas, and goat cheese; for summer, make this version here, for Fall, combine sweet potatoes, herbs, and feta; and, for winter, make the mushroom and chard version in Keys To The Kitchen Cookbook.
Finally, we have to discuss this specific frittata recipe becuase it's a crowd pleaser! Made by folding together sauteeed onions, browned zucchini, and a mix of both basil and mint for a savory, sweet healthy-ish frittata that works as well at a brunch as it does as a weeknight dinner.
The caramelized onions can be skipped if you don't have time but they do add a lot of flavor. And the zucchini with the mint is directly inspired by the classic Neapolitan dish known as Zucchine Alla Scapece where fried zucchini pieces are marinated with vinegar, mint, and garlic for a surprisingly simple but memorable side dish. Here we skip the vinegar but still have that magic combo of mint and zucchini happening. If you want to make it even quicker, you can simply slice the zucchini thin and skip sauteeing them -- just promise me one time you'll make it fully as written so you get the full flavor!
Oh, and the genius idea of topping it with prosciutto and cheese? I read somewhere that chef Nancy Silverton did that and have been adding it whenever I want to make the fritata more of a one-stop meal.
plus some shavings of cheese for garnish (optional)
ends trimmed and discarded, remainder thinly sliced into coins
halved legnthwise then sliced crosswise into quarter moon shapes
minced just before using, plus a few extra leaves for garnish
minced just before using, plus a few extra leaves for garnish
or jamon, for garnish (optional)
For The Frittata Base: In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and a crank of black pepper until they yolks are just incorporated. Meanwhile, place the zucchini in a fine mesh seive then toss them with a large pinch of salt. Set the seive in a bowl and set aside at least 5 minutes and up to 2 hours so they can let off some water. Use a clean towel to pat the zucchini dry and rub off some of the salt.
Salting the zucchini will help draw out the water and get them to brown really well when you saute them. This is not a mandatory step but it helps a lot if, like me, you want your zucchini super golden brown.
For The Sauteed Onions: Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a 9-or-10-inch large frying pan over medium-low heat until shimmering. Add the onion, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is golden brown, about 12 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook another couple minutes until the whole mixture is golden brown. Turn the onion mixture into the eggs and stir to combine. Return the pan to the stove.
To make the frittata faster, you can leave out the onions and garlic. Or, you could even make them a day or two ahead so all you have to do is mix everything togehter and cook the frittata when you want to serve it.
For The Sauteed Zucchini: Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in the large frying pan over high heat and, once the oil shimmers, add half of the zucchini. It should sit in one layer in the pan so that they get brown and don't steam. Let the zucchini cook undisturbed for a few minutes, then flip when they're golden brown. Let cook until the zucchini are just soft on the second side (they don't need to get color) and remove them to a paper towel-lined plate or baking sheet. Repeat to cook the remaining zucchini.
To make the frittata healthier and quicker, you could skip sauteeing the zucchini and simply slice it paper thin and add it to the egg mixture. Alternatively, you could make them a day or two ahead so all you have to do is mix everything togehter and cook the frittata when you want to serve it.
To Cook The Frittata: Once the zucchini are all cooked add them to the egg mixture along with the ricotta and the herbs and stir until everything is evenly combined but you still have a few chunks of ricotta.
Wipe out the pan and return to the stove. Add the remaning 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to the pan and swirl to coat.Arrange the rack in the oven in the upper third and heat the broiler to high. Once the oil shimmers, pour in the egg mixture. Cook until the outer 2 inches are beginning to set. Run a spatula around the edge to make sure the frittata is not sticking to the sides of the pan.
Place the frittata under the broiler and, keeping the door ajar and constantly keeping an eye on it, and broil until the top is just set (it should no longer be liquidy but it should jiggle a tad bit still in the center), about 3 minutes. Remove the frittata from the broiler and set aside 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
To Serve The Frittata: Run a spatula around the innner edge of the pan and then slide the frittata onto a large plate or serving platter. Top the frittata with a few pieces of prosciutto, a few shavings of cheese, a handful of herbs, and a crank of black pepper and serve immediately.
You can make the frittata up to 2 days ahead of time and serve it cold, room temperture, or warmed up.
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