Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Meatball Frittata

Except for soup, pasta, or salad, there's nearly nothing you can cook that is as versatile as the not-so-humble frittata, which is nothing more than an open-faced omelet.   Just about whatever you've got leftover in your frig, including spaghetti you brought home from the Italian restaurant (and definitely the toppings from that box of cold pizza), can be worked into a frittata and turned into a meal that might feed you a couple times or more.  Will you be happy?  I think so.

One of the best things about a frittata is how tasty it is hot, at room temperature, cold, leftover, or sliced thinly for an antipasto platter.  It's also fine for any meal of the day or for snacks.  It travels admirably and will be a filling and sustaining lunch at the office or picnic at the park.

A frittata makes a beautiful brunch dish and is, if well-planned, a beautiful addition to the holiday table, particularly for Mother's Day or Easter Brunch, but also for Christmas morning.  The cooking techniques are minimal (chop, beat, grate, cook, bake) and the results are stunning.

For this particular frittata, I had some meatballs I'd made earlier and gotten tired of eating.  Into the freezer they went, ready for meatball sandwiches.  My frozen meatballs came out the other night to be cooked up in a breakfast for dinner dish that's not difficult to make, but is worth mastering. So much for meatball sandwiches. (I had frozen some without sauce, too, though it's easy to wash sauce off any meat.)  You can also buy pre-cooked meatballs in the freezer section of the supermarket.  Sometimes fresh meatballs are available in the deli or even in the meat case.  Whatever meatballs you use, just make sure they're completely unthawed before using for this dish.

You could easily sub Italian sausage for the meatballs, but  make sure it's well-cooked and completely unthawed if you've frozen it.  This is where that cold pizza could come in hand.  Try this:

meatball or italian sausage frittata*  2 servings
doubles easily, but then needs a 14" skillet

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • 2T olive oil
  • 1 small potato or sweet potato, diced
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup onion or leeks (or both), diced
  • 1/4 cup each green(or red) pepper,  zucchini,  and asparagus, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3-4 cherry tomatoes, sliced, optional
  • 2-3 cooked meatballs, cut in half, or 4-6 1/2" pieces of cooked Italian sausage
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, divided (you'll use some for garnish later)
  • Generous sprinkle of dried thyme (can sub oregano)
  1. In a large, deep oven-safe skillet, heat olive oil over medium  heat and add potatoes.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook, stirring a time or two, for 3 minutes or so.  Add onion, green peppers, zucchini, and asparagus.  Again, lightly season with salt and pepper.
  2. Cook vegetables until pototoes are nearly tender and add garlic.  Cook, stirring, another minute or two .
  3. Stir in cherry tomatoes and cooked meatballs or sausage. Heat through.
  4. In a medium bowl, beat eggs with a pinch of salt and pepper.  Pour the seasoned eggs into the skillet on top of the vegetables and sprinkle all with half of the Parmesan cheese.  Add thyme.  Let cook stove-top until eggs are about half-way cooked.
  5. Carefully move skillet to oven and bake until eggs are set and frittata is browning.  Oven time will depend on how long the eggs were cooked stove-top, but check in 3-4 minutes.  Do not overcook. 
  6. Turn out onto a large cutting board and let sit 2 minutes or so before cutting into two pieces.  You can also serve right from the pan.  Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan cheese over the frittata as you plate or at table.  (Optional:  serve with a little marinara)

*Some cooks cook all of the vegetables or additions first, remove them from the pan, re-oil or butter it and then cook the eggs.  Once the eggs are a little bit set, the other ingredients are then re-added to the pan. 

Also--it's possible to cook the entire frittata stove-top, but you'll need to lower the heat and perhaps put a lid on the pan.  Another alternative is to slip the pan under the broiler for a minute or two to finish the cooking--instead of baking in the oven.

Note:  My pictures are of a doubled omelet in a 14" pan.  We then had leftovers for breakfast for a few days.

Have fun cooking and taking care of yourself,

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