I don't think I ever really liked omelettes until I was about 14 or 15, despite the fact that my mum makes a cracking one (wow, I didn't even see that pun coming). Hers were always the 'classic' folded variety, which are quick to make, but not as easy as they seem to get right. Over the years, I've learned to make a passable version, not quite up to mother's standard, but as long as the filling is tasty enough, it works. What I am far better at, and tend to default to when omelette is called for, is the Italian 'frittata' variety, which is cooked slowly and finished off under the grill. I was originally inspired to make this by the legendary Nigel Slater's classic (and first) cookbook, Real Fast Food, which he signed for me back when I was working at Waterstone's in Richmond. It's now become one of my regular weeknight staples, largely because it is so simple, and yet depending on what you put in it, can look and taste quite exotic. It also works well cut into slices as a healthier alternative to quiche (no fattening pastry). So with an affectionate nod to Nigel, here's my own frittata recipe, with ingredients as included for last night's dinner that could easily be substituted for a bit of whatever you have to hand.
- 4 large (free range organic) eggs
- Large knob of butter
- 1/3 packet of feta cheese
- Half a red pepper, thinly sliced into long strips
- 1 small leek, chopped
- Handful of olives, halved
- Handful of rocket, chopped
- Balsamic vinegar
- salt & pepper (I use Halen Môn smoked salt, which works wonderfully with eggs)
Melt the butter in a frying pan until frothy, then add the leeks and peppers, stirring to coat. Keeping a careful eye on the vegetables, gently beat the eggs (I use a knife), crumble in the feta, add the olives and rocket and seasoning. When the leeks and peppers are starting to soften (they'll need stirring occasionally), turn up the heat slightly and splash in about a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, keeping the heat relatively high until the vinegar had reduced and the vegetables are sticky and browning. Pour over the egg mixture and shake about until the vegetables are evenly distributed. Turn the heat down to minimum and leave for 10-15 minutes until the eggs are just set underneath (you can check by gently lifting with a spatula). Meanwhile, heat the grill to high so that when the frittata is ready you can pop it straight under. It only needs a minute or so to cook on the top, and should turn a golden (not brown) colour. Cut into slices and serve with salad for a healthy supper, or for extra comfort-food factor, good old fashioned chips and peas.