Frittata: A How To Guide and a Double Zucchini Frittata Recipe
I talk about easy, go to and quick meal or snack options all the time with clients. Frittata (basically a big stovetop omelette) satisfies this in so many ways. It can be a meal, it can be a snack, it can be breakfast, lunch dinner or somewhere in between. It can be where you dump your leftovers or where you use your best and freshest veggies. Eat it in a wrap, between bread, with a salad, with your hands standing over the counter before you run out the door (is that one just me?). You can make it weekly and it may never taste the same. All this magic aside, it also reminds me of my Nonna, who always kept a staple frittata in her fridge.
I always make these slightly different, but I will try my best to explain my methods here. So here's your how to guide, plus my most recent summer favourite, the Double Zucchini Frittata.
You'll need a non stick pan, and I like one that's about the size of a dinner plate. If you are using one that is larger than any plate you have, you'll run into problems when you try to flip it over. You can also use a cast iron skillet which allows you to throw it in the over to finish as well (instead of flipping). I find you will need some more oil when using cast iron which is fine. Of course you'll also need a bowl and a whisk for the eggs, though a fork will suffice. Finally, you will need a heat resistant spatula and 2 dinner plates. The 2 plates should be similar diameter to the pan you are using.
I like to add it as a flavour agent, not as a main event here. If you are using any raw or fattier meat (I like diced pancetta or soppresata) then this is where you start so you can render out the fat and flavour. If you are using leftover sausage or ham, add them later with the eggs since they are already cooked.
Go wild here friends! If you are using raw vegetables, you want to cook these first of course. If you are using leftover cooked veggies, you can add them straight to your egg mix, or heat them up a bit first, it doesn't really matter (note 'it doesn't really matter' is a recurring theme here).
Think about how long the vegetables you are using take to cook in relation to each other. Like you would with soup, start with firmer vegetables like onion, peppers, or potatoes, then move onto middle of the road vegetables like zucchini or mushrooms, next would be heartier greens like swiss chard or kale, and finally more delicate greens like spinach. My favourites are potato, onion, zucchini and peas. I think these are pretty classic choices and maybe that's why I like them so much.
Note higher water content vegetables like zucchini and mushrooms should be cooked well first to release their moisture to prevent your final dish from being too water logged (that's me trying to avoid the word soggy).
Cheese is always a good idea, but of course not essential if you're not into that sort of thing. Grated parmigiano isn't necessarily 'cheesey' (ie you will not be reminded of a French cheese omelette) but adds great flavour. I think of this basically like salt. If you are using a grated cheese, add that right to the egg mixture. If you are using a softer cheese like ricotta, sliced fresh mozzarella or bocconcini, I would dollop or place that into the nearly set eggs later in the cooking process (we'll get there).
I love to mix in lots of fresh herbs here, especially in the summer when they are so abundant. I also often will mix in pesto as an easy way to boost flavour (and also use up all the pesto I get all summer long). You can absolutely count cheese in this flavour category too. These go straight into the egg mixture.
Ok so this one is a requirement. In my weekly frittata, I usually use 6 eggs and some egg whites (maybe 1/2 cup). The extra egg whites is of course optional. Sometimes I add some milk (maybe 1/4-1/2 cup) but it's also optional. I think it adds a bit of something creamy and custardy almost but many are vehemently against this. Without it the frittata is a bit more dense which isn't right or wrong, just depends how you like it. I would not use skim or 1% milk because that's basically just like adding water, 2-3% is best. Use cream to make it even creamier (note cream is a crucial ingredient in quiche which is the French encrusted version of this dish). Ground black pepper is a must. Salt depends on which kinds and how much cheese or meat is involved. Note I always add salt to the vegetables as they cook, but not always to the eggs.
Regardless of what goes in, the process is always the same. Start with anything that needs to be cooked first (ie meat or vegetables). Once the vegetables are at your preferred level of doneness (I like my vegetables quite soft, I think it adds to that custardy vibe of the finished dish), and any moisture from the veggies has been cooked off, you're ready to add the eggs. The eggs and any added flavourings should be mixed well, but no need to beat for 5 minutes or use a mixer here. Froth is not necessary.
Once the eggs go in, you're basically acting as if you're making scrambled eggs, continuously mixing and scrambling the whole thing with a heat resistance spatula. After a few minutes, the eggs will start to set as if they were going to become scrambled. You'll switch methods now and instead start to run your spatula along the edges and slightly underneath the frittata. Tilt the pan slightly as you do this so that any uncooked egg from the center can run to the edges and cook more evenly. Once you notice there is no more uncooked egg running around, push your spatula farther into the center of the pan and shake the pan slightly until the frittata has released from the pan. Use the spatula to guide the frittata onto the dinner plate. Place the pan upside down on top of the dinner plate. Slip your hand under the plate with your other hand on the handle of the pan. Flip it over and return the pan to the heat to finish cooking on the other side. This should only take a few minutes. Slide or flip the finished frittata onto a clean plate and you're done!
Double Zucchini Frittata Recipe:
I hope by now you are getting the sense that the options are really endless here. How exciting is that! Here is my recipe for the double zucchini frittata that is really only possible for those brief and magical summer months. I'll likely be making my last one for the year very soon, which is very sad.
1 tbsp olive oil
1 oz chopped pancetta *optional
1 small onion, thinly sliced into half moons
2-3 medium zucchini, thinly sliced into half moons or full circles (half moons will be better for bigger zucchini)
6 egg - 8 eggs
1/4 cup milk *optional
1/4-1/2 cup grated cheese, depending on how cheesy you like it *optional, note nutritional yeast can give great flavour for dairy free friends
1/4 cup chopped herbs like chives, basil, parsley
8 zucchini flowers, lightly rinsed, inner stamens removed
Heat the olive oil in a nonstick 12-16 inch pan (remember you need a plate as big as this). Add the pancetta if using and let that cook until it starts to crisp up, the fat starts to render, and it smells amazing. Add the onions and allow to soften for a few minutes before adding zucchini. Add some salt and pepper, but not the pancetta will have a good saltiness too so tread with caution. The zucchini should be quite soft, it provides a creamy texture when it's well cooked through.
Meanwhile, beat the eggs, milk, cheese if using, and herbs well. Once the zucchini and onions are well cooked through, add the egg mixture. Mix the eggs and vegetables well with a nonstick spatula. For the first few minutes, stir consistently. From here you want to mix less often and you will notice it start to set. Once it does so, you can use your spatula to run around the edges of the frittata. Tilt the pan and guide the uncooked parts run underneath so they can cook up too. Do this repeatedly along the whole edge of the frittata.
When there is very minimal uncooked egg left, gently press the zucchini flowers into the frittata. Arrange them so that the innermost part is near the center and the tips of the petals are by the edges. Use the spatula to guide the frittata onto the dinner plate. Place the pan upside down on top of the dinner plate. Slip your hand under the plate with your other hand on the handle of the pan. Flip it over and return the pan to the heat to finish cooking on the other side. This should only take a few minutes. Slide or flip the finished frittata onto a clean plate and marvel at your work.