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Everyday Cheapskate: The Frugal Frittata

Mary Hunt on

It's been a hectic day. The family's hungry, the fridge offers little more than eggs and leftovers and you're fresh out of answers for the question everyone's asking: What's for dinner? The solution may be found in a single word: frittata.

A frittata is like an omelet but without the fancy pan work. It's similar to a quiche without the troublesome crust, additional dairy products and long baking time. For a frittata, you simply prepare the filling (leftovers are ideal), pour the eggs on top and cook until set. While an omelet is soft, delicate and slightly runny, a frittata is tender but firm.

An omelet is prepared at a higher temperature with critical timing. A frittata is cooked slowly over low heat and not folded over. Aside from simplicity, frittatas have another advantage: They're delicious hot, cold or at room temperature, so you don't have to sweat timing, as you do with most omelets, which must be served warm.

Making the perfect frittata is as simple as learning these easy tricks.

Pan: Nonstick frying pans with ovenproof handles make the best frittatas. Conventional skillets require so much oil to prevent sticking that frittatas cooked in them are greasy. You need a 10-inch pan for a six-egg frittata (serves four) or a 12-inch skillet for eight-egg frittatas to serve six.

Filling: Potatoes, onions, mushrooms, vegetables, ham, pancetta, cheese and chicken (just about anything) are great candidates to fill a frittata. Ideally, the filling should just cover the bottom of the pan. Begin by sauteing the filling items in a small amount of oil in the same pan you will prepare the frittata.


Eggs: Beat eggs (six or eight depending on the skillet size) lightly and pour them over the filling. Once the bottom is firm, use a thin plastic spatula to gently lift the frittata edge so that the uncooked eggs run underneath. Continue cooking about 40 seconds until egg on top is no longer runny. Transfer skillet to oven at 350 F. Bake until frittata top is set and dry to the touch, two to four minutes. Note: If you do not have a pan with an ovenproof handle, slide the frittata onto a plate and then flip it over, and then back into the skillet to continue cooking for several minutes.

Serve: Run spatula around skillet edge to loosen frittata. Invert onto serving plate. Cut into wedges. Serve warm, at room temperature or chilled. Serve with salad and crusty bread.


2 teaspoons olive oil


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