Discovering the old way
In this pretty frittata, slow-cooked eggs make a soft, thin base for toppings
Very satisfying: Where eggs for dinner can feel as if you've thrown something together to satisfy your hunger, a beautiful plate-size frittata and a glass wine is a party for one. (Kirk McKoy/Los Angeles Times)
When I saw a frittata, I ordered it, having no idea that it was going to be nothing short of life-altering. Life-altering in terms of my egg-making and egg-eating life. I love eggs almost any way they're cooked. I love hard-cooked eggs. I love fried eggs. I love poached eggs and soft scrambled eggs. And I love the French tradition of an omelet and salad for dinner.
Being an Italophile, I wanted to love frittatas, but to that point they had been one of my least-favorite egg preparations, along with the Spanish tortilla. The way I'd always had both egg dishes, they were so thick that, to ensure they were done all the way through, they were cooked in an oven until dry and spongy. I ordered the frittata that day at the restaurant because it was the only egg on the menu, and I'm sure glad I did.
When the server put it down, my immediate reaction was: These are the most beautiful eggs I've ever seen. It defied all frittata expectations. First of all, it was not a slice, but a whole, round thing that covered the entire plate. The toppings were scattered beautifully over the surface, so it was like my pizzas, only with eggs in place of crust. And it was thin, so the eggs were cooked like perfectly soft-scrambled eggs, only flat. In that sense, it was like an omelet that hadn't been folded.
It was a complete reinvention of the form, or so I thought. What I didn't know is that this might be similar to the original frittata, which, deriving from the word "friggere," was cooked on the stove top in a skillet. Since reinventing is what I do best, I was a little disappointed that I hadn't thought of this method myself, but I also was excited to have a new way of looking at one of my favorite foods.
This summer I got to work on "my" new frittata concept. The possibilities seemed almost endless. When I had the rare week alone, I made frittatas for dinner for myself. Whether I'd copied someone else's idea or revived the old Italian way of cooking eggs, I didn't know. But where eggs for dinner can feel as if you've just thrown something together to satisfy your hunger, as I sat with this beautiful plate-size creation, an arugula salad and a glass of wine in front of me, I felt I had thrown a dinner party for one.
Carmelized onion, goat cheese and olive topping
The toppings should be warmed before being added to the frittata. The caramelized onion and garlic confit are difficult to cook in small amounts but keep well in the refrigerator.
Cook 1 thinly sliced onion in 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until onion softens. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium; add 1/2 tablespoon butter. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are a deep golden brown, 15-20 minutes.
Cook 1 cup peeled garlic cloves in 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat until the garlic becomes soft and begins to brown. Set aside to cool. Top frittata with 1/4 cup caramelized onions, 12 pitted nicoise olives and 6 confited garlic cloves; crumble on 11/2 ounces goat cheese; sprinkle with fresh thyme.
Onion, potato and bacon topping
Top frittata with 1/4 cup sauteed sliced onions, 3 fingerling potatoes (steamed, cut into 1/4-inch thick discs), 3 slices apple wood-smoked bacon (cooked, sliced into very thin strips) and 1 tablespoon minced chives. Finish with 1/3 cup finely grated Gruyere cheese.
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
2 teaspoons cold water
1/4 rounded teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
Toppings, as desired
1. Beat the eggs, water and salt with a fork in a bowl until well combined.
2.Heat butter in a 9- to 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-low heat until melted, 2-3 minutes, without letting it brown or sizzle. Pour in the eggs without swirling, but shake the pan very gently until the sides are set.
3.Using a heat-proof rubber spatula, draw the set edges of the egg mass inward, away from the sides of the pan, tilting the pan so the raw egg runs into and fills the space created. Continue gently cooking and pulling the eggs in this way until almost no egg runs off when you tilt the pan.
4.Immediately scatter the toppings over; if the eggs seem as if they are setting, remove the skillet from the heat. If the eggs are still a bit runny, continue cooking as you add the toppings. Slide onto a plate; serve.
Per serving (for 2 servings): 175 calories, 15 g fat, 7 g saturated fat, 299 mg cholesterol, 1 g carbohydrates, 10 g protein, 248 mg sodium, 0 g fiber.
Written with Carolynn Carreo. Silverton is a cookbook author, chef and co-owner of Pizzeria Mozza and Osteria Mozza in Los Angeles.