Brunch is more than just a portmanteau of ‘breakfast’ and ‘lunch’ – it is a dance between two meals. It is, no doubt, more social than a typical breakfast and far more enjoyable, in my opinion, because it is served at a socially acceptable hour and no one passes judgement against you for lulling around in bed for hours before having the first meal of the day. Brunch forces you to slow down, enjoy your meal with friends and family and indulge to your heart’s content and who doesn’t love that…really.
If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me for a good brunch recipe, well, I’d have about enough money to host brunch for all of you and still have money left over for coffee! As enjoyable as eating brunch is, the task of creating delicious and creative brunch dishes for company can be daunting. In lieu of resorting to the usual suspects (fried eggs, sausage, bacon…fried eggs), why not offer your guests a completely unique take on an omelette. This Italian omelette is puffy and delicious and the perfect item to put on your brunch menu because it serves up easily and tastes as good at room temperature as it does warm.
A frittata is an Italian egg-based dish similar to an open-faced omelette or quiche. It is often flavoured with herbs and ingredients such as meats, vegetables, and cheeses. The eggs are beaten to incorporate more air than a traditional omelette, which results in a fluffier omelette. The frittata is cooked either over very low heat on a stove or in an oven until the underside is set and the frittata is beautifully puffed up. Unlike an omelette, a frittata is never folded to enclose its contents and served whole, but rather, it is divided into slices and often accompanied by various types of bread.
I love making frittatas because a frittata base is like a blank canvas of sorts, just waiting for you to add to it a dash of this and a pinch of that to create a perfectly delicious and creative omelette.
I used tomatoes, mushrooms and scallions as the vegetables in my frittata and rosemary as the herb, but you could easily use any type of herb (basil, for example, works wonderfully in frittatas as does thyme, parsley or cilantro). I often add roasted red peppers or sun-dried tomatoes to the mix to elevate the frittata’s flavour.
The frittata can be made in either a cast iron skillet or a pan. A skillet is preferred because it can easily transition from the stove top to the oven without any fuss. If you choose to use a pan, if the handle is plastic, be sure to wrap the handle tightly with aluminum foil. Most of the handles on cookware can tolerate temperatures of about 300-350°F, but if you are not sure, make sure to wrap the handle tightly. Bear in mind that this technique is only effective for when you are cooking something in the oven for less than 20 minutes or so. Using a skillet or pan with a foil-covered plastic handle for prolonged periods of time in the oven, could very well cause it to melt.
The beautiful thing about frittatas are the endless flavour possibilities. I had some extra chicken kicking around in the fridge from last night’s dinner, so I shredded the chicken into the mix. You could use just about any cheese you have in your fridge and any protein you have on hand, such as cooked beef diced into chunks or even sausage. I often make frittatas with beef and add corn, monterey jack cheese and sharp cheddar cheese to give it a ‘tex mex’ flavour.
The best thing about this recipe is that, the night before you’re ready to make this, all the veggies can be cut and put into a bowl with the chicken, herbs and seasoning (keep the mushrooms separate in a small bowl to saute later) and refrigerated so all you have to do the next morning is crack the eggs and add the milk which means you can get a few extra minutes of shut-eye in the morning! 😉
1/8 cup milk (whole or 2%)
1 small tomato
2 green onions or scallions
1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon rosemary, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed chili flakes (optional)
1 ounce shredded cheese (cheddar, monterey jack or marble)
1-2 ounces cooked shredded chicken
2 tablespoons (30 ml) butter or oil
Preheat your oven to 350°F (177°C). Dice the tomatoes and scallions and set aside. Crack the eggs into a medium bowl and add the milk. Using a whisk or fork, whip the eggs to create volume and add air to the mixture. Add the tomatoes, scallions, rosemary, black pepper, salt, and crushed chili flakes (if using). Shred the chicken into the bowl and combine the mixture until all the ingredients are well incorporated.
Dice the mushrooms and mince the garlic. In a medium skillet or pan (about 8-9 inches in diameter) over medium heat, add the oil or butter and allow to warm for a few seconds. Add the garlic and allow to gently toast until a pale golden colour (be careful not to brown or burn the garlic). Add the mushrooms to the skillet. Allow the mushrooms to sweat and soften for about 1 minute. Add the egg mixture to the skillet. Turn off the stove but keep the skillet over the burner for a few seconds to allow the egg mixture to warm up. Sprinkle with cheese.
Transfer the skillet or pan from the stove top to the centre of the oven. [Note: if your pan has a plastic handle, cover the handle completely with aluminum foil before placing in the oven.] Bake the omelette for 14-16 minutes until it is puffy. To test to see if your frittata is cooked, using an oven mitt, grab a hold of the handle and give the pan a gentle shake. If the centre jiggles and moves about, the frittata is not cooked through. Divide into slices and serve warm with buttered toast or bread.