For Mother's Day, get out the eggs and whip up a creative frittata

They're easy to make, kids can help — and you can use almost any veggie, meat or cheese for filling.

  • A frittata plate from Soups On
A frittata plate from Soups On
May 09, 2012|By Susan Reimer, The Baltimore Sun

Food Network star Giada De Laurentiis says that her mother would make frittatas, the Italian egg dish, with whatever leftovers she had in the refrigerator. "

That was the joke," she tells viewers in segment of her cooking show. "What's in the frittata today, Mama?"

What better dish to serve Mom on Mother's Day?

A frittata is quick and easy, and the kids can help. As a bonus, Mom wakes to a clean fridge.

An omelet without the fold and a quiche without the crust, the frittata has its own selling points: It can be sliced and eaten, hot or cold, with a fork or fingers.

It can contain a single ingredient in addition to the eggs — meat, cheese, a vegetable or an herb — or any of those foods in any pleasing combination.

"Marylanders sure love their corn," said Kevin Mullaney of Soup's On on Preston Street in Baltimore. His Southwestern frittata, with Anaheim chilies, roasted peppers and roasted corn, tomatillo and pepper jack cheese, is the most popular on his menu.

"I wanted something that was going to be high protein and warm and good for brunch, lunch or dinner," said the Baltimore native, who operates this restaurant and two more in Florida with his twin brother, Keith.

"They are so easy to make" says Mullaney, whose customers are most often college students from the neighborhood. "The prep time is, like, 5 minutes and the cooking time is 20 to 25 minutes. A frittata can be vegetarian ... and because it has no crust, it is perfect for a gluten-free diet."

Frittata is an Italian word that comes from the verb "to fry," but in truth it can be baked or finished under the broiler, too.

And recipes reflect the bounty of the seasons. Asparagus, arugula, shallots and green onions, with fontina cheese, say spring. Mullaney makes a butternut squash, sage, ricotta and pancetta frittata in the fall. And one with portabello mushrooms and smoked mozzarella or Jarlsberg in winter.

His creations are as deep as a lemon meringue pie, with layers of vegetable, cheese and meat that demand a fork. But frittatas can also be as thin as a cracker and cut into squares and eaten like one, too.

If there is a challenge to the frittata, Mullaney admits, it is making sure that it is cooked through — it is made with raw eggs, after all — but not over-browned.

"Use organic ingredients," urges Mullaney, who makes a list of organic soups for his menu, too. And he likes to use eggs from free-range, hormone-free, grain-fed hens.

"A frittata is about eggs, after all," he said. "And you will taste the difference."

Asparagus, arugula, fontina and prosciutto frittata

Serves 6

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons shallots, chopped

4 scallions, chopped

6 to 8 ounces arugula, chopped coarsely

1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into small pieces

Salt and pepper, to taste

12 eggs

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Vegetable spray for pan

4 ounces prosciutto, sliced very thin

4 ounces fontina cheese, sliced

In a saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute shallots and scallions until soft, about 3 minutes. Add arugula, asparagus, salt and pepper and saute for 2 minutes.

Beat 12 eggs, add lemon juice, Parmesan cheese and mix. Add vegetable mixture and blend evenly.

Place half of the egg mixture into pan coated with non-stick spray. Layer with prosciutto and cheese slices. Pour remaining egg mixture on top and place in 400 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until lightly brown and firm to the touch.

Remove and place on wire rack and allow to cool.

—Courtesy of Kevin Mullaney of Soup's On

Chicken sausage, sun-dried tomato and zucchini frittata

Serves 6

1 pound fresh chicken sausage, casings removed

3/4 pound small zucchini

2 large cloves garlic

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons dry white (optional)

2 tablespoons finely shredded basil leaves

1/2 cup cooked macaroni, tossed with 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil

6 dry-packed, sun-dried tomatoes halves, soaked in very hot water for 20 minutes, squeezed dry and finely chopped

3/4 cup coarsely grated Parmesan cheese

Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper

9 large eggs

1 cup whole milk

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

In non-stick or cast iron frying pan, cook sausage until no trace of pink remains, but do not overcook. Transfer to paper towel-lined plate to drain. Discard fat in pan.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9-inch springform pan with vegetable spray.

Trim and coarsely grate zucchini. Mince garlic. Return frying pan to medium heat and saute zucchini in olive oil about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook for about 1 minute. Add white wine and cook until wine evaporates. Remove from heat and stir in basil.

In a bowl, combine macaroni, tomatoes, cheese, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and mustard.

Layer first sausage, then zucchini mixture and then pasta mixture. Pour egg mixture evenly over the ingredients.

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