Let’s talk about its rusticity first. I have no recollection of any restaurant in Italy that has a frittata on its menu. That’s because it is the quintessential homemade food, not sophisticated enough to be worthy of a restaurant. Nor have I ever eaten frittata in any of the fancy households and parties I used to get invited to in Rome or Milan. Simply not chic enough. But believe me when I tell you that no one, I repeat, no one can resist a good frittata. 🙂 Let me tell you a story to prove my point.
Since I was 21, I have been spending my summers at my parents’ beach house on a fairly glam stretch of coast on the island of Sardinia. Usually, before we go to the beach, my mother packs lunch boxes with incredible treats for the whole family and a frittata is always included. We consider my mom the queen of frittata and her grandchildren are crazy about this dish. When lunch time comes, the sleek ladies under the umbrellas start eating their flavorless salads (yup, Italian women tend to be all about looking thin and fabulous) while my mother start pulling out her “rustic food wonders” including her legendary frittata.
At which point, first we get a nasty look from the ladies that says “look at those peasants!” but then the smell of frittata spreads around and the upscale offspring from the other umbrellas – chased by their nannies – start getting closer like bear cubs attracted to honey. My mother, who is a woman from the south and, therefore, very hospitable, starts handing frittata bits to everyone and, at this point, the ladies, who are the loving mothers of the kids surrounding us, have no choice but to approach and thank us. And then… the frittata does its trick: a minute later, I can see their bejeweled fingers (the reason why women go to the beach wearing jewels like a madonna in a procession simply escapes me!) with their perfect manicure reaching for the frittata and the only thing my head is hearing is that famous music from Steven Spielberg’s movie “Jaws” that is played when the shark is getting close to its victim. 😀
Bottom line, everyone loves frittata and I truly believe that it can be served as an appetizer at any party, even the fanciest, if it is properly dressed up. 😉
Let’s now tackle the concept that frittata is easy to make. Maybe it is for the other human beings, but for me it is a nightmare. I select the ingredients, I beat the eggs, I pour the egg mixture in the skillet and I let the first side of the frittata cook the way my mother showed me only about a thousand times. Everything seems to go awfully well until it is time to flip the frittata to cook the other side. Et voila’! Depending on where I decide to play the flipping game, my frittata inevitably ends up either on the floor, the sink or the stove 😦 I simply cannot do it!
I noticed that lots of cooks and chefs start cooking their frittata on the stove and then continue the cooking process in the oven. Well, in Italy, we do not cook it that way… we flip it and, to be honest with you, I was not ready to settle for the oven option.
Since in my past professional life, I was, among other things, a problem solver, I have now been determined to find a solution to my flipping incapability. After a little research, Williams Sonoma came to the rescue. They carry a fabulous nonstick pan with interlocking handles that lets you flip a frittata very easily without using a plate and, more importantly, without having your frittata splashed all over the kitchen.
If you want to know more about this innovative piece, check it out on Williams Sonoma’s Web site. As you will notice, it is a little bit pricey but you can always do what I do when I buy something expensive… I keep repeating myself “because you are worth it”! (no, unfortunately, I’m not a l’Oreal testimonial but I’m firmly convinced of that! 😉 )
A few more words before we talk about recipe and method. The gorgeous frittata that you see in the pictures has been flipped in the traditional way, i.e., using a regular skillet and a plate. Did I do it? Of course, not! My mother did. I will describe the way she does it (I’m great at the theory part!) because my mother always taught me that a cook should be able to cook anything from scratch with the only help of basic tools. So just give it a try, if you feel like it. You can always do what I did… resort to technology because if it is true that I treasure my mother teachings I’m also a huge believer that technology is there to make our life easier. 🙂
1 cup, cut green beans
1 and 1/2 cup, peas
1/4 cup, chopped onion
8 grape tomatoes
Half of 1/4 cup, extravirgin olive oil
1/2 cup, grated parmigiano cheese
Ground black pepper
Cut the tomatoes in half and the potatoes into small bits.
In a non-stick medium skillet, put the olive oil, the beans, the peas, the onion, the tomatoes and the potatoes. Add some salt (to taste), toss to coat and start cooking on a very low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked.
Meanwhile, put the eggs, the parmigiano cheese, some salt and pepper (to taste) in a bowl and whisk it until you obtain a smooth mixture. When the vegetables are cooked, pour the egg mixture in the skillet. Let it cook for 2/3 minutes and, with the help of a fork, every time the edges of the egg mixture solidify, push them back toward the inside of the frittata so that new raw egg mixture gets in contact with the skillet and solidifies. When the egg mixture is set at the bottom and begins to firm up at the top, move the skillet over the sink (in my experience, it is the easiest to clean if things go wrong), put a plate over the skillet, flip the frittata onto the plate and slide the flipped frittata back into the skillet. Cook a few more minutes et voila’!
May the force be with you and happy flipping! 🙂