After my last frittata post, I thought I really must have these wonderful Italian versions of omelette more often for supper. They’re so quick and easy to make. As long as you have eggs – and most people have some eggs to hand – you can then add a variety of things from your fridge: all kinds of vegetables, perhaps with some bacon or ham or bits of cold chicken leftovers or one of those gorgeous Italian sausages I bought last week crumbled up or sliced, or any cheese that will soften and go a bit gooey. When I had the wonderful frittata for lunch at Butter Beans cafe recently, I really loved the mix of sweet potatoes, spinach, tomatoes and feta and thought I must try to reproduce that some time. Well tonight I got round to it!
I usually have all these things in my fridge – perhaps not always fresh spinach to hand but certainly all the others: sweet potatoes, feta, tomatoes, shallots and, of course, eggs! I’ve recently discovered handy small packs of feta (120g) in Waitrose which are an ideal size for one. I needed to cook the potato first as it wouldn’t work raw in the frittata, so I peeled it and cut it into chunks and boiled it until the pieces were just tender. I drained them and when cool enough to handle, cut into thick slices.
I’d planned to use 6 eggs, which would be enough for two people and for me would leave a portion to have cold (or reheated) with salad for lunch tomorrow. I only had 4. I don’t run out of eggs but I do sometimes run out of 6! Four would have to do. I broke them into a jug, added a dash of milk as I like to do to lighten the mix (see The Beauty of a Simple Omelette) and some salt and pepper. At the last minute I beat it all together with a fork. But meanwhile, I finely sliced 1 shallot and started softening it a pan with some olive oil (about 2 tablespoons). You need a reasonably deep omelette pan as you’re about to make a deep frittata. Next I cut 2 small tomatoes in half and added them, then the sliced cooked sweet potato.
I wanted the tomato to cook slightly to soften and also lightly brown both sides of the potato, to give an extra caramelised taste to the finished dish. Once these were ready, I turned the tomatoes over and crumbled in half the feta.
I’d blanched a big handful of spinach leaves in salted water for just a minute or two until it started wilting and had then drained it. I now added that to the pan.
All the while, the pan was over a gentle heat and I could see the edge pieces of feta start to melt and go creamy. I mixed the ingredients very slightly and very gently with a fork, spreading out the spinach a bit, then added the beaten eggs. Don’t be tempted to stir or play with it; just leave it to gently cook.
After a few minutes – maybe 5? – you’ll see the edges are cooked and you can lift one side carefully with a spatula. If it’s nicely browned underneath you’re ready for the final step. First though, I grated over a good amount of Parmesan.
There are different views about how to finish the frittata off. Traditionally in Italy the frittata is turned over – you can turn it over onto a plate and then slide it back into the pan to cook the other side. Some people put it in an oven to finish off (assuming of course you’ve used an ovenproof pan). My preference this evening was to put it under a hot grill (I had to protect my handle). This is really an easy method and you get a fabulous result with the final frittata puffing up slightly and browning nicely.
Now you can slice it. This was quite nicely thick and sliced well. I served it with a side green salad.
As a supper dish it’s very flexible. For a family or feeding friends you could use a larger pan and as many eggs as you like – maybe 10. And as I said at the beginning, you can experiment with different fillings – or just add whatever is lurking in your fridge and will go together well. This combination was wonderful – just as I’d liked it at Butter Beans. By almost layering the ingredients they all kept their individual identities: the sweet soft potato a perfect foil to the salty feta cheese, a tang of slightly metallic spinach and the acidity of the tomatoes balancing it all. It was SO tasty! And no, I didn’t eat it all. More than half but a good portion was left over for lunch tomorrow.