Cooking For One: Single-Serving Frittata
My mom makes the best frittatas. As it turns out, it was the first dish she ever cooked for my dad. And while eggs are a sure way to any man’s heart, she must have done something very right with that particular frittata.
When I was growing up, the frittata was the only breakfast item that we consistently ate for dinner. It often made an appearance when there was some sort of miscommunication as to whether we would all be around on a given evening, or when my mother was too tired to make Shepherd’s Pie, run out for a beautiful piece of fish to sear, or think of something more involved that she wanted to make instead.
On nights like these, she’d get started sautéing onions in a heavy cast-iron skillet, add some slivered potatoes to the bottom of the pan, pour in the egg with any other fresh veggies or herbs she had on hand, and finish it off in the oven. Until I started eating frittatas out at restaurants, I was under the impression that the crusted potato bottom was an obligatory part of a classic frittata, and I was sorely disappointed at the variations I was given later in life, which, if they didn’t have enough crispy-brown melted cheese on top, would just taste like an single-layer overcooked omelet.
So frittatas and I tried our hand at a long-distance open relationship when I left for college. I started playing the field a little bit, working my way through a variety of omelets and scrambles, expertly fixed by Lefty, my dining hall’s one-armed egg man (short-order cook by day, Providence’s finest DJ by night). Eggs were really the only safe option at lunchtime, the line sometimes stretching all the way around the circular room. But at dinnertime, the university couldn’t really justify offering an omelet stand, and, anyway, Lefty had more important things to do around town. When night hit, I really found myself missing my frittata.
Fast forward four years—we’ll skip my return to breakfast-for-dinner monogamy when I moved back in with my parents—and let’s take a look at where frittatas and I stand today. I make a lot of them for company since my only oven-proof cast-iron pan is very large. But I still have days when I don’t want to share my frittata love with anyone else. For these low key occasions, when I want to pamper myself with something extra comforting and delicious, I’ve developed a method for single-serving stove-top frittatas that can be made in a small nonstick pan. In this latest version, I layer thin slices of zucchini in place of the old potato, slowly wait for the egg to set over low heat, and cover the pan with a plate so that the top begins to cook as well. When the bottom has set up nicely, I carefully flip the whole thing. The result is a very beautiful, zucchini-studded frittata, one that I will happily keep in my life, and enjoy all to myself.
From my kitchen, where spring frittata fever is back, to yours,
Phoebe, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK
- 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
- 1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 2 tablespoons shredded Monterey Jack (or any mild white cheese)
- In a small non-stick skillet, sauté the shallot in 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-low heat. When they begin to become tender, add the zucchini. Sauté the veggies until they are cooked through and beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. With your spatula, spread the zucchini and shallots evenly across the base of the pan. Season the egg with salt and pepper and pour it over the veggies.
- Cook until the bottom of the frittata has set and the top is nearly cooked through, about 3 to 5 minutes. Using a spatula, loosen the bottom of the pancake. Peel back one side, and tilt the pan so that the remaining uncooked egg slides to the open surface area. Using a second spatula, gently flip the frittata. Sprinkle the cheese over the top, and cover the pan with a plate to lock in the heat. Cook for another minute or so until the cheese is melted and the underside of the frittata has set. Slide the frittata onto a round plate and serve immediately.