Kitchen Intuition: Quick, cheap and delicious frittatas

Authored By aliceodea

The frittata is one of those magical dishes that can be whatever you need it to be. Breakfast, lunch or dinner; appetizer, entrée or side-the frittata can do it all. It’s a very quick and easy prep, and it can be different every time you make it, depending on what you have on hand. Do you need to clear the refrigerator of all the scraps and loose bits? This is your dish! It is also a cheap food that is packed with nutrition, and kids love it.

First, figure out what you want to have in your frittata. Just about anything will do, including leftovers. Throw in some carrots, greens, peppers, eggplant, onions, leeks, potatoes, beans, cabbage, asparagus, mushrooms, tomatoes, squash, cauliflower, frozen veggies, garlic, olives, ham, bacon, sausage, fish, cooked grains or pasta, or whatever else you think might be a tasty addition. You can use a lot or a little.

If anything needs cleaning, trimming, peeling, destemming or chopping, get that done so that it’s ready to cook. And you might want to preheat the oven to 350 degrees if that’s the method you want to use to set the frittata (see below).

Your cooking vessel should be a nonstick pan, preferably ovenproof; ideally, this would be a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet. Put some oil, butter or other fat in the pan over medium heat on the stove. Add the vegetables that will need the longest cooking time (the carrots, potatoes and onions, for example), and cook until softened, adding the quicker-cooking vegetables when appropriate so that everything will be done at about the same time. Once everything is nicely softened and wilted, you can add anything that is already cooked (leftovers or anything from the freezer that just needs to be thawed).

While the vegetables are cooking, whisk six to eight eggs in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper, and then maybe get a little creative. You can add all sorts of optional ingredients at this point: a little milk, cream, cheese, yogurt, mustard, or some herbs and spices. Mix it all well, and then pour it into the skillet with the vegetables. Gently stir to make sure that everything is nicely spread out.

Let the frittata cook for about 10 minutes. While it is cooking, you can add some other optional flourishes, if you’re so inclined. Gently lay some tomato slices over the top of the mixture, or sprinkle it with cheese, herbs or spices.

Once the egg looks like it is starting to set on the bottom and edges, you can move it to the oven to finish cooking. To bake, put it in a 350-degree oven for about 10 minutes. To broil, set the frittata 3 or 4 inches under the broiler for just two or three minutes. Either way, leave it in the heat until the top has set. If you don’t have an ovenproof skillet, you can try turning the frittata over so that it can finish cooking on the stovetop (some cooks do this by carefully turning the frittata onto a plate that has been placed over the pan and then sliding the frittata back into the pan).

And there you have it. In half an hour or less, you’ve got a fabulous frittata. Enjoy it for dinner with a salad on the side, or put wedges in the refrigerator to have ready for breakfast or to use for lunches. It’s delicious hot, warm or cold. Enjoy!

Alice O’Dea has lived in Chattanooga for over 20 years, but was raised among the mucks and dairy farms in rural western New York. She didn’t really learn to cook until midlife. When she’s not puttering around in the kitchen, she enjoys running, cycling, traveling, photography and trying to get food to grow in the backyard of her Highland Park home. You can email her with questions, suggestions or comments at [email protected]. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not or its employees.