I like eggs but for some reason rarely think to cook them. I’m not a cooked breakfast person. I’ve upset Cornish bed & breakfast people by refusing their ‘famous’ English breakfasts. I just can’t do it. I’m a muesli or granola, plain yogurt and fresh fruit person in the morning after a mug of warm water with a slice of lemon when I wake up. Come mid morning I’ll be desperate for a good coffee and maybe a croissant. My real eating comes later in the day and anything that resembles a cooked breakfast would certainly class as lunch or at the very least, brunch – i.e. after midday. But by then, I’ve generally forgotten eggs. Eggs have always seemed such a breakfast food to me. Sometimes I might think to have some scrambled eggs on toast or a fine French-style omelette for lunch but that for me is a light meal; it’s not my main meal of the day. (You’ve probably long gathered by now that I have a large and healthy appetite!) But then there are frittatas … or even tortillas. What is the difference? A frittata in Italy; a tortilla in Spain. I trailed the internet but found no definitive answer to what makes one rather than the other. What they are not most definitely is an omelette, that light and simple concoction of eggs brought quickly together and folded, still oozingly soft in the middle, and served immediately (see my recipe here). Both frittatas and tortillas are cooked through, finished off under a grill or flipped over, and left unfolded; both might be served cold at a picnic or in a tapas bar, cut into thick slices. They do constitute meals, however. While an omelette won’t happily take a lot of filling a frittata or tortilla can be packed tight with filling: most particularly sliced potato if you’re in the Spanish mood; all kinds of vegetables and even meat or fish. I’ve often used leftover boiled potatoes in this way, but tonight cooked some specially. I had one nice organic courgette in the fridge, some red onion, fresh herbs in a pot just outside the back door and, of course, eggs!
A frittata will obligingly adapt to the seasons and the numbers of people you are feeding. Use baby broad beans in the spring, some fresh asparagus at the beginning of summer, some diced squash in the autumn. Simple grate Parmesan over the top as I did tonight or crumble over some tangy goats’ cheese or sharp blue cheese. Use whatever you fancy and what you think will match your chosen vegetables. I used three eggs tonight as I was cooking for just myself, and a small omelette pan, but for a large number increase the number of eggs and size of pan. Thickness is no problem. A thick tortilla or frittata cut into slices is a very good thing.
I sliced some cooked new potatoes, some red onion and the courgette. I also defrosted a handful of frozen peas in some warm water. I picked a few leaves of basil, mint, flat leaf parsley and chives and roughly chopped. I melted a good knob of butter with a little olive oil in the omelette pan (it really is worth having a special non-stick omelette pan that you don’t use for anything else). Then I added the vegetables and herbs and cooked for about 5 minutes, turning occasionally, until starting to lightly brown and soften.
Meanwhile, I broke three fresh eggs into a bowl, seasoned well with salt and black pepper and beat with a fork.
Pour the eggs into the pan, over the vegetables, but don’t stir. Leave to cook gently until you see the edges of the egg are cooked and there’s just a thinnish layer of uncooked egg on top.
Grate over a nice mound of Parmesan (or other cheese).
Now put the frittata under a hot grill to finish cooking; until it nicely brown on top and cooked through.
I transferred the frittata to a wooden board on which I’d laid a green salad tossed in oil and balsamic vinegar and some tomatoes, which I’d lightly salted and drizzled some olive oil over. They were black-skinned tomatoes – supposedly full of antioxidants! – that I’ve been growing in the garden.
To serve, slice wedges and transfer to a plate.
My frittata wasn’t very thick, of course, with just three eggs. But that didn’t matter. It still tasted wonderful! It was rich in flavour from the eggs and cheese but had a nice freshness from the vegetables. The great thing about frittatas (or omelette or tortillas) is that you generally have all the ingredients to hand: eggs, cheese, some vegetables. It’s such a quick an easy thing to put together but also, even for a hungry Single Gourmet Traveller, a frittata is a good meal!