How to Make Eggs for Dinner with Substance and Style

Slate's Culture Blog
Feb. 15 2012 12:08 PM

You’re Doing It Wrong: Frittata

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Greens and Feta Frittata.

Photo by L. V. Anderson

Eating eggs for dinner is a time-honored ritual for the cash-strapped, the harried, the exhausted, and the lazy. The trouble is that minimalist eggs—scrambled, fried, or boiled—practically scream out for accompaniment. Many people muffle that cry with a slice of bread and call it a night, but there’s a better way to turn eggs into a meal.

L.V. Anderson L.V. Anderson

L.V. Anderson is a Slate assistant editor. She edits Slate's food and drink sections and writes Brow Beat's recipe column, You're Doing It Wrong. Follow her on Twitter.

I’m not talking about quiche, which requires crust, cream, and 45 more minutes than you may have to spare on a weeknight. Nor am I talking about omelettes, which demand too much attention and the sleight of hand needed to fold and flip without breaking the delicate eggs or scattering their fillings all over the place.

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I’m talking about frittatas, which are like quiche without the crust or omelettes without the spatula handiwork. The term “frittata” comes from the Italian word for “fried,” but like The New Pornographers, frittatas have a misleadingly provocative name. A frittata doesn’t much resemble fried eggs, nor is it much oilier than any other egg preparation. It’s not much harder to make, either: Sauté vegetables in oil, pour beaten eggs over them, and bake for 20 minutes, and you end up with a savory cake that’s twice as substantial and twice as healthy as a pile of scrambled eggs.

Sturdy greens, like collards or kale, are the ideal base for a frittata. They’re delicious and provide a pleasant textural contrast to the soft eggs (and, unlike spinach and chard, they’re never watery). They do, however, take quite a bit longer to cook than tender greens, which is why many recipes call for parboiling them (cooking them in boiling water and then draining them before sautéing them). Parboiling is a pain in the neck, but soaking the greens in kettle-boiled water works nearly as well with less hassle and zero chance of overcooking. (You can also add the greens raw to the skillet and then add a little water to help them soften—but since raw greens are so voluminous, they don’t always fit in a skillet; plus, that approach takes longer.)

Assuming you want cheese (and I’m assuming you want cheese), feta is my favorite for frittatas. Unlike melting cheeses that disappear into the eggs, feta retains its distinctly dense texture and its tangy, briny flavor when cooked in a frittata. Plus, it absolutely ensures that this frittata won’t cry out for accompaniment—although a piece of good bread on the side might not be a bad idea.

Greens and Feta Frittata
Yield: 2 or 3 main-course servings
Time: 45 minutes

1½ pounds collard greens or kale
Salt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
Black pepper
6 large eggs
3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
¼ cup chopped fresh dill or 2 teaspoons dried dill weed

1. Heat the oven to 400°F. Bring a kettle of water to a boil. Remove the thick stems and ribs from the greens and discard them; roughly chop the leaves and put them in a large heatproof bowl. Sprinkle the leaves generously with salt, then pour the boiling water over them and let them sit for 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, put the oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add the onion and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Drain the greens well and add them to the skillet; cook, stirring occasionally, until they’re very tender, 10 to 12 minutes.

3. In a medium bowl, beat together the eggs, feta, and dill, along with some salt and pepper. Turn off the heat under the skillet, pour the egg mixture over the vegetables, and stir very gently just to distribute all the ingredients evenly in the skillet. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the top of the frittata is firm and the edges are golden brown, about 20 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve hot, warm, or at room temperature. (Store leftover frittata wrapped in foil or plastic wrap in the refrigerator for up to a few days.)

Previously in You're Doing It Wrong:
Brownies
Chili
Granola
Pizza
Cabbage Salad