Thursday, September 2, 2010

Make-do Meal: Fritata

I love a meal that saves me money and a trip to the grocery store for that inevitable missing key ingredient. A fritata does all that, looks fancy and is healthy and super easy too. I'm not even going to post a recipe, because it's all about making do with what you have on hand. For the version pictured above, I used:
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini (leftover from making muffins)
  • 1 red pepper (found in the crisper drawer that wasn't going to make it another day)
  • 2 pieces of deli baby Swiss cheese (on sale that week and purchased for grilled cheese)
  • 1/2 cup shredded ham (leftover from the bone of a ham I baked Sunday)
  • 2 green onions (leftover from a stroganoff recipe)
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • salt & pepper to taste
But the variations are endless:
  • ham, broccoli & Cheddar
  • onion & potato
  • asparagus & feta
  • tomato & goat cheese
  • you get the idea...
If you're adding fresh veggies, saute them first in a little oil. This will draw out any excess moisture and make sure you have tender-crisp and not undercooked, crunchy veggies. Then scramble the eggs in a separate bowl with the milk and pour it over top of the veggies in the hot pan, mixing in any cheese you want to add.

Cooking a fritata: You can cook a fritata two different ways, depending on what kind of pan you want to use.
  • Nonstick pan-- cook on medium, scraping the sides toward the center gently with a plastic spatula. When the egg is fairly set (8-10 minutes) jiggle it until you're sure it's loose from the bottom of the pan. When you're ready, flip the fritata out onto a large plate, so it's raw side down, then slide it back into the pan to finish cooking, another 5-8 minutes. It's ready when you poke a hole in the middle and you don't see runny egg oozing out (make sure you're not looking at melted cheese). I saw this method on Rachel Ray's cooking show and gave it a try for the first time. The presentation is nice and you don't have to heat the oven.
  • Cast iron or Iron-clad--Any kind of pan that's oven proof is great too. You won't get that lovely fritata to slide out on a plate but it will still look great. And hey, one less dish to do. Cook the fritata the 8-10 minutes while you preheat the oven to 400'. When it's fairly well set (read: not too jiggly or watery looking), pop onto a rack set high near the broiler in the oven. Bake until it's puffy and golden brown on top.
If you have kids (like my preschooler) who won't eat everything all mixed together, you can also easily set aside the basic ingredients--scrambled eggs, meat, raw or sauteed veggies--and still have a complete meal. Add a fruit or green salad and you're all set. Luckily, we don't all have to eat like preschoolers. :-) Rich, the baby, and I ate it as is. I was thinking next time it would be good with crusty bread and some fresh tomato bruschetta too. Top it off with a little shaved parm to make it extra fancy.

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