A work colleague was telling me the other day that she loved omelette but no matter how hard she tried she just couldn’t fold them. So I told her the answer to her problem was the humble frittata.
What is a Frittata? (from Wikipedia)
The Italian word frittata derives from fritto, the feminine past participle of “to fry” (friggere), and was originally a general term for cooking eggs in a skillet, anywhere on the spectrum from fried egg, through conventional omelette, to an Italian version of the Spanish tortilla de patatas, made with fried potato. Outside Italy, frittata was seen as equivalent to “omelette” until at least the mid-1950s.
In the last fifty years, “frittata” has become a term for a distinct variation that Delia Smith describes as “Italy’s version of an open-face omelette”. When used in this sense there are four key differences from a conventional omelette:
- There is always at least one optional ingredient in a frittata and such ingredients are combined with the beaten egg mixture while the eggs are still raw rather than being laid over the mostly-cooked egg mixture before it is folded, as in a conventional omelette. Eggs for frittata may be beaten vigorously to incorporate more air than traditional savory omelette, to allow a deeper filling and a fluffier result.
- The mixture is cooked over a very low heat, more slowly than an omelette, for at least 5–10 minutes, typically 15, until the underside is set but the top is still runny.
- The partly cooked frittata is not folded to enclose its contents, like an omelette, but it is instead either turned over in full, or grilled briefly under an intense salamander to set the top layer, or baked for around five minutes.
- Unlike an omelette, which is generally served whole to a single diner, a frittata is usually divided into slices. It may be served hot or cold, accompanied by fresh salads, bread, beans, olives, etc.
The beauty of the frittata is that you can make it your own. Like mushrooms, fry them up add the egg, hey presto mushroom frittata. Like cheese, throw it in! Onions, ham, sausage, left-over vegetables, potatoes, whatever you like. Frittatas are also a wonderful way of using things up in your fridge. My favourite thing about them though is they are easy to make, rarely go wrong and take only about 10 mins including the preparation time!
Sweet Pepper Frittata
This is an example of an easy and delicious Frittata recipe that you can adapt with almost any ingredient you would put in a omlette.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6 people
- 90ml/6 tbsp olive oil
- 900g/2lb red and yellow peppers, cut into strips
- 3 garlic cloves, sliced
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 12 free-range eggs
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Heat five tablespoons of the oil in a 25cm/10in frying pan and fry the pepper strips, stirring from time to time, until the edges of the strips are caramelised, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and fry gently until it is cooked but not burnt. Add the vinegar, and cook until evaporated. Remove from the heat and set aside, leaving the peppers in the pan.
- Beat the eggs in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.
- Return the frying pan to the heat, add the remaining oil and pour in
the egg mixture. Cook, stirring a little with a spatula, until there is a
crust on the underside, about five minutes. Cover the pan with large
plate or the lid of a large saucepan, and quickly turn it upside down
to invert the omelette. Slide it back into the frying pan, crust-side up.
Cook for a further five minutes, until the other side has browned. Cut
into wedges and serve hot or cold with salad.