Tag Archives: Parmesan

Pepperoni and artichoke frittata

Pepperoni and artichoke frittata

I love artichokes. And I find they really pair well with other foods with robust flavors such as sun-dried tomatoes in this frittata and salad or in the antipasto salad. In this frittata, the artichokes are coupled with pepperoni. Add some Italian cheeses and it makes a very tasty frittata.

A couple of notes on preparation: Pepperoni slices have a tendency to stick together and form clumps. I find it best to add these to the eggs first, a few at a time, to get them mixed in with minimum clumping. Also, I add the artichokes last to minimize stirring the eggs with them and breaking them up. I use around a half of a standard-size can of artichoke hearts. They can vary in size. Smaller ones I cut into quarters, larger ones into fifths. The way I cut into (approximate) fifths is to first cut the artichoke in half off-center. Then cut the smaller piece in half and the larger one into thirds.

Pepperoni and artichoke frittata

1/2 cup pepperoni slices cut in half
4–5 artichoke hearts cut into quarters or fifths (1/2 standard size can)
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella plus more for the top
1/4 cup grated Parmesan plus more for the top

3 eggs
olive oil

Put the eggs into a good-sized mixing bowl and beat just to mix them up. Add a bit of oil to the pan and let it get hot. Add a small amount of the eggs to the pan to set the bottom of the frittata to prevent sticking. Turn the heat down to medium low. Mix the pepperoni, cheese, and artichokes into the eggs. Pour the mixture into the pan. Cook this for about 5 minutes to set the bottom and sides.

Preheat the broiler. When the 5 minutes cooking on the stove are up, sprinkle on additional cheese and place the pan under the broiler, about 6 to 7 inches below. Cook until the top is set and just starts to brown. This is about 1–1/2 to 2 minutes for me, but watch closely.

Remove from the broiler, loosen up the sides with a spatula if necessary, and slide the frittata out onto the serving plate.

Zucchini and tomato frittata

Zucchini and tomato frittata

This is an attractive frittata. But the tomatoes weren’t put on the top for appearance. It was done for flavor. Let me explain.

I started out wanting to make a frittata with zucchini. Zucchini is a mild vegetable, so I needed something to complement it. Tomatoes seemed the obvious choice–think ratatouille. But I though if I cut up the tomatoes and mixed them in the frittata, they would overwhelm the zucchini. Also, given the nature of a frittata, only so much can be mixed in, so including the tomatoes would reduce the amount of zucchini, further limiting the zucchini flavor. That’s when I had the idea of slicing the tomatoes thinly and using them to cover the top. The zucchini could be the star in the body of the frittata, to be complemented by the tomatoes on the top.

If you’ve looked at any of my other frittata recipies, you have seen that I like to finish the cooking of the frittata under the broiler. I made an exception for this one, baking it in the oven instead, because I didn’t want to brown the tomatoes.

Zucchini and tomato frittata

1 cup zucchini cut into matchsticks, about 3/16-inch (1 good-sized zucchini)
1 tablespoon shallot, chopped
olive oil
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated or finely shredded
2–3 Roma tomatoes, sliced very thin, enough to cover the frittata
salt
fresh ground pepper

3 eggs

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cook the shallot in olive oil about 2 minutes over low heat until it starts to get soft. Add the zucchini and a bit of salt and pepper. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes until the zucchini just starts to soften. Don’t overcook, and remember that it will cook some more in the frittata.

Put the eggs into a good-sized mixing bowl and beat just to mix them up. If needed, add a bit more oil to the pan and let it get hot. Add a small amount of egg mixture to the pan to set the bottom of the frittata to prevent sticking. Turn the heat down to medium low. Mix the zucchini and shallots and the Parmesan into the eggs and pour the mixture into the pan. Place the tomato slices on top, covering the frittata. Sprinkle a little more salt and pepper on the tomatoes. Cook this for about 5 minutes to set the bottom and sides.

Put the frittata in the oven. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the egg next to the tomatoes just starts to brown.

Remove from the oven, loosen up the sides with a spatula if necessary, and slide the frittata out onto the serving plate.

Mushroom and spinach frittata

Mushroom and spinach frittata

Sometimes a simple frittata with a few basic ingredients just hits the spot.

Mushroom and spinach frittata

1–1/4 cup sliced mushrooms
1–1/2 tightly packed cups spinach
1 small clove garlic, minced
fresh ground pepper
olive oil

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese plus a little more for the top

3 eggs
olive oil

Heat a small amount of olive oil in a pan. Add the mushrooms. Cook over medium heat for several minutes until the mushrooms are cooked and soft, adding the garlic for the last minute or so. Then start adding the spinach a handful at a time, stirring and turning over until the spinach is just wilted. Continue until all the spinach has been added and is wilted. Add some fresh ground pepper. If there is excess liquid in the pan, turn up the heat and cook for a minute or so to boil this off. (Sometimes I have the extra liquid and sometimes not. I wonder if this depends on the mushrooms?) Remove the mushroom and spinach mixture from the pan.

Put the eggs into a good-sized mixing bowl and beat just to mix them up. Add a bit of oil to the pan if needed and let it get hot. Add a small amount of egg mixture to the pan to set the bottom of the frittata to prevent sticking. Turn the heat down to medium low. Mix the mushrooms, spinach, and Parmesan into the eggs and pour the mixture into the pan. Cook this for about 5 minutes to set the bottom and sides.

Preheat the broiler. When the 5 minutes cooking on the stove are up sprinkle a bit more of the Parmesan on the top. Place the pan under the broiler, about 6 to 7 inches below. Cook until the top is set and just starts to brown. This is about 1–1/2 to 2 minutes for me, but watch closely.

Remove from the broiler, loosen up the sides with a spatula if necessary, and slide the frittata out onto the serving plate.

Italian Denver frittata

Italian Denver frittata

Yes, it is a funny name. But it’s meant to be accurately descriptive.

Start with a Denver omelette. It typically includes diced ham, onion, bell peppers, and sometimes cheddar cheese. Nearly any omelette can be done as a frittata. And I have made a Denver frittata.

I had some diced pancetta in the freezer, left over from something else I made. So I thought, what about using that in a Denver frittata in place of the ham? That started the movement toward Italian, and the rest fell into place quickly. Use Parmesan cheese instead of cheddar. Add some garlic, basil, and oregano. The result is an Italian Denver frittata.

Pancetta is essentially the Italian version of bacon (but not smoked). Most recipes call for cooking the pancetta until crisp, like bacon is often cooked. I actually prefer bacon less than completely crisp. I did the same for the pancetta here, cooking it through, but stopping just before it would be starting to turn crisp. Do as you prefer.

I think the fresh basil and oregano worked especially nicely here. But if you don’t have the fresh herbs available, you could certainly use the dried versions. You would want to use less, 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of each should be plenty. And I would add the dried herbs to the vegetables when you start cooking them.

The 2 tablespoons for each of the vegetables may seem like small amounts. But this adds up to 1/2 cup. And if you look at the photo, you will see that the frittata is quite filled with the various ingredients. So you can’t do a lot more than this.

Italian Denver frittata

1/3 cup diced pancetta

2 tablespoons diced onion
2 tablespoons diced green bell pepper
2 tablespoons diced red bell pepper
2 tablespoons diced mushroom
1 small clove or 1/2 large clove garlic, diced or pressed
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano
fresh ground pepper

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese plus a little more for the top

3 eggs
oil

Cook the pancetta about 4 to 5 minutes over medium heat until desired doneness. Remove from pan.

Add the onion, peppers, mushroom and garlic to the pan with the fat from the pancetta. Add some fresh ground pepper. Cook 3 to 4 minutes until everything is just starting to soften. Mix in the basil and oregano and remove from pan.

Put the eggs into a good-sized mixing bowl and beat just to mix them up. Add a bit of oil to the pan and let it get hot. Add a small amount of the eggs to the pan to set the bottom of the frittata to prevent sticking. Turn the heat down to medium low. Mix the pancetta, vegetables, and Parmesan cheese into the eggs and pour the mixture into the pan. Cook this for about 5 minutes to set the bottom and sides.

Preheat the broiler. When the 5 minutes cooking on the stove are up, sprinkle a bit more of the cheese on the top. Place the pan under the broiler, about 6 to 7 inches below. Cook until the top is set and just starts to brown. This is about 1–1/2 to 2 minutes for me, but watch closely.

Remove from the broiler, loosen up the sides with a spatula if necessary, and slide the frittata out onto the serving plate.

Salmon Caesar sala

A tale of two Caesars

It was the best of salads, it was …

Enough of this! This is about schizophrenia…my schizophrenia about Caesar salads and the differing ideas about the nature of this famous salad.

To me, there are two basically different Caesar salads. The original, according to Julia Child, whom I of course believe, came from Tijuana, Mexico. It is made with whole leaves of romaine, olive oil, lemon juice, a partially cooked egg, Parmesan cheese, and wonderful, freshly made garlicky croutons. This is a salad I love to serve with a fancy meal. I have had it a several times in nice restaurants, usually made tableside by servers using overly grand gestures. None of the restaurants, however, has had the guts to make and serve the salad with the whole leaves of romaine.

The other Caesar salad, more commonly served in restaurants, has romaine topped with a creamy dressing containing the Parmesan. It may or may not include additional cheese. And it will usually include hard croutons, that are sometimes still tasty and other times are ridiculously hard lumps that are tasteless and nearly impossible to bite into. Sometimes these Caesar salads are quite good. Other times, awful.

To me, the only things the two types of Caesar salad have in common are romaine lettuce, some contact with Parmesan, and something called croutons–though it is a stretch to say that the croutons on some of the salads have anything at all in common with the freshly made croutons in the original.

After all this, while I adore the original Caesar salad, I also really like the version with the creamy dressing for a main course salad with seafood or chicken. But with two conditions: It must include freshly grated Parmesan. And it must have the wonderful, freshly made, garlicky croutons. Once you taste these, you will never buy the bags or boxes of dried cubes of bread masquerading as croutons that you get in the store.

Now for the ultimate irony. There seems to be general consensus that the original Caeser salad was developed by one Caesar Cardini sometime in the 1920s at his fine dining establishment in Tijuana. (Why Tijuana? This was during Prohibition and since that did not affect Mexico, establishments sprung up to serve people coming from Southern California.) And what I consider to be the best bottled creamy Caesar salad dressing is…yes…Cardini’s Original Caesar Dressing, which the website credits as having been “inspired by Caesar Cardini.” (How can it be “original” if it was only “inspired by?”) The website also describes the origin of the Caesar salad, even including a photo showing the ingredients used in the original salad, coming full circle.

So on to my salmon Caesar salad. You could of course use chicken or shrimp instead, but I especially like the salmon here: A slice of salmon filet, 5 to 6 ounces, previously baked and chilled. Romaine, Parmesan, the croutons, and Cardini’s Caesar dressing are the remaining essential ingredients. Everything else is optional.

For the croutons, you will want nice firm white bread—French bread is ideal. It can be a few days old; it will actually work better that way. If doing this for one, you only need a small part of the loaf, so how to deal with that? Bread freezes fine, at least for something like making croutons. So if you have French bread for something else and have some left, put it in a plastic bag and toss it in the freezer for your next Caesar salad. You don’t have any in the freezer? Get a loaf of French bread, make the croutons, and freeze the rest, either for more croutons, for making homemade bread crumbs, or for a French bread pizza.

I cut the bread into small cubes, about 1/2 inch or so to make nice little croutons. While there is no problem including the crust, I prefer to trim much of the crust. The croutons can be made when your prepare the salad or earlier in the day—perhaps when you’re making the salmon. If you make them earlier, don’t put them in a sealed bag or dish that would trap any moisture.

One caution, especially if you make the croutons earlier: You may need to make more than you will want on your salad. Passers-by have a tendency to nibble on them—and you may also—they’re that good! I know that happens around our house.

Few amounts are given in the recipe because most are a matter of taste and appetite. For the croutons, the amounts of oil and garlic will depend on the number of croutons your are making, of course. The garlic is important. If the cloves are not quite large, I would definitely use 2 cloves.

Salmon Caesar salad

salmon filet
oil (vegetable or olive)

1 to 1–1/2 cups small cubes of bread
2–3 tablespoons olive oil
1–2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced

romaine lettuce
red onion, thinly sliced (optional)
black olives, sliced (optional)
freshly grated or finely shredded Parmesan

Cardini’s Caesar dressing
lemon juice
fresh ground pepper

The salmon is cooked earlier so it can be chilled. I bake it, but you could grill or poach. To bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Coat the pan and both sides of salmon with oil. Place salmon skin side down in the pan. Bake until desired doneness. I generally go about 12 minutes for a thick filet, but it will depend on both the size and your preference. Let it cool, remove the skin, and refrigerate.

I have two different approaches for incorporating the garlic with the olive oil for making the croutons. The quick way is to mince the garlic and put it in the pan with the olive oil as you start heating the pan. This works, but leaves small dark bits of garlic at the end. The more time-consuming approach is to put the garlic, minced or pressed, into a small bowl with the olive oil. Mash the garlic in the olive oil with the back of a spoon for at least a minute or so to infuse the olive oil with the garlic. Then strain the olive oil into the pan, leaving the garlic in the bowl.

Heat the olive oil and garlic (however included) in a skillet over medium heat. Add the bread cubes and start turning them over with a spatula and wooden spoon to get the bread coated with the garlic-infused olive oil. It may seem like the bread is getting a little soggy with the oil, but don’t worry, this is part of getting them set up to brown and turn into the tasty croutons. Keep turning the croutons over frequently. You don’t have to do this continuously, but you need to turn them over a lot because you want the bread to brown on all sides, and this isn’t like when you’re cooking a few flat things and can just turn them over once to cook the other side. After a few minutes, the croutons will start to brown. I’ll be turning them more frequently at this point to be sure the croutons brown on all sides. Stay with them because it now goes very quickly. When they are lightly browned and toasty—a couple of the croutons may even start to look a little darker—remove the pan from the stove and put the croutons into a dish. (They’ll cook more if left in the pan.)

The final assembly of the salad doesn’t require much. Put the romaine on the plate. After this, each person may have different ideas on the order of things. I put the salmon in the middle and the onions and olives on the rest of the salad. My preference is to add the dressing next. (I like to do this before the Parmesan, but others will reverse the order.) Sprinkle on the Parmesan (or grate it on directly if you have one of those hand cheese graters, which works well here). Add fresh ground pepper over the entire salad and some lemon juice on the salmon. Now put the croutons on the salad and it’s finished.

Margherita frittata

Margherita frittata

Another pizza-inspired frittata. Margherita pizza is a classic, just mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, and basil. This certainly will work for a frittata as well.

Looking at recipes for Margherita pizza online, I found ones that used tomato sauce, whole canned tomatoes, and fresh tomatoes (and even a combination). For a frittata, mixing tomato sauce in with the eggs doesn’t seem to be a good idea so I use fresh tomatoes. (I suppose you could just put tomato sauce on the top…hmm…maybe that’s an idea for something in the future.) I like to use the small Roma tomatoes. They are easy to slice and cut up into pieces that are a good size for the frittata.

The standard Margherita pizza uses just mozzarella as the cheese. I like to include some freshly grated Parmesan to give the frittata more flavor. I don’t measure, I just grate some into the measuring cup, maybe 2 or 3 tablespoons of Parmeasan, and then fill the rest with the shredded mozzarella. If you’re buying a bag of already shredded cheese, another option is an Italian cheese mix with multiple cheeses that is often available.

Margherita frittata

3/4 cup Roma tomatoes, cut into 1/4-in slices and quartered (about 2 small Roma tomatoes)
5–6 basil leaves, cut into thin strips, more or less, depending on size
1/2 cup grated mozzarella and Parmesan plus a little more for the top

3 eggs
olive oil

Put the eggs into a good-sized mixing bowl and beat just to mix them up. Add a bit of oil to the pan and let it get hot. Add a small amount of egg to the pan to set the bottom of the frittata to prevent sticking. Turn the heat down to medium low. Mix the tomatoes, cheese, and most of the basil into the eggs and pour the egg mixture into the pan. Cook this for about 5 minutes to set the bottom and sides.

Preheat the broiler. When the 5 minutes cooking on the stove are up, sprinkle a bit more of the cheeses on the top. Place the the pan under the broiler, about 6 to 7 inches below. Cook until the top is set and just starts to brown. This is about 1–1/2 to 2 minutes for me, but watch closely, especially because you don’t want the pieces of tomato on the top browning.

Remove from the broiler, loosen up the sides with a spatula if necessary, and slide the frittata out onto the serving plate. Put the remaining basil on top before serving.