Every year before my high school interns leave, I love to give them a cooking project that I think will serve them well. This year is was all about something that seems so simple, but is really a kitchen workhorse—the frittata.
Frittatas are a little bit omelette and a little bit crustless quiche. You start with some aromatics or other vegetables cooked on the stovetop in a cast iron pan. I have a deep respect for cast iron. About three years ago, Food52 ran a blog about what you need for a starter kitchen. The cast iron pan—cheap, sturdy, and seasoned—came up in the top ten. It truly is the best thing for a frittata making, but I have cooked frittatas for a crowd in huge, very heavy paella pans, and tall-sided saucepans, as well. As soon as the eggs set, it’s time for the fillings and then any toppings. Put the pan in the oven and let it finish cooking almost all the way through—a little jiggle is good, because it will keep cooking after you take it out.
Once I explained this to the interns, we talked about what they felt might reflect who they are right now. Grace had just recovered from a stomach virus so we talked about what food was comforting. Rice popped up. She was hesitant when I suggested it, but I told her about the famed Spanish tortilla—a frittata bursting with potatoes. Her Frittata with Peas, Rice, and Cheddar came to life.
Rachel wants to go into nutrition and has struggled with weight. She wanted to do an egg-white frittata. When egg yolks were on my giant list of forbidden foods with fats and cholesterol, I made plenty and I still make them occasionally, when it serves the recipe’s purpose (it does keep the calories down). She wanted to use cauliflower, peas, and carrots. I suggested roasting the cauliflower before she started, to develop the flavors and add depth. I also suggested that she add something a little crunchy on top—a pinch of panko breadcrumbs and a pinch of parmesan for salt. Rachel added some fat free cheese to the mix and her Egg-White Frittata with Roasted Vegetables and a Parmesan-Cheddar Crust was born.
Cecilia has serious cooking credentials. Her father was a restaurant line cook and imparted a sense of culinary awareness early. She’s stagiered at white tablecloth restaurants, plus she has a few years of high school culinary under her belt (with my daughter Rayna, I might add!). She wanted to add layers of flavor. Once she knew she was using havarti, the rest of her Frittata with Havarti, Dill, and Asparagus fell into place. The aromatics were browned and caramelized, the dill was fresh and refreshing, and the cream that she added to the eggs (not my first choice; I am a water fan to keep it light) made it rich and incredibly satisfying.
The first show Julia Child chose to do on television was about omelettes—all about eggs and a sturdy pan. I watched it as a child over and over. It was a joy to reopen that journey for these three young cooks.
Click here to see a slideshow of the work our interns accomplished: Frittata Frenzy Flipagram from The Weiser Kitchen