Last night’s dinner, like many weeknights, had to be quick, reliable and nutritious. It had to be something both of my kids would eat with happiness and sustain them after soccer practice; approaching it with mere tolerance or mild interest wouldn’t do. (There are rare nights when they refuse to eat at all, but sometimes one of them pushes more than he ought to, but he almost always ends up eating.) It was close to the end of the week. Saturday is the farmers’ market. This was one of those clean-out-the-fridge kind of events. Maybe you are a weekend shopper, too, and sit in a similar boat. Enter the frittata.
We all need a few dozen of these sorts of dishes and recipes dancing around in our heads, or flickering on our computer screens, as the case may be. I’m going to write out the ingredients, but I’m not going to give you step by step instructions. For this one, I will just explain what I did, in an unorthodox way, in attempt to demystify the process and show you how you might pace your own cooking steps. Sometimes meal planning is daunting for people who are challenged by getting a good meal on the table, even without time and other constraints. Hell, it’s challenging for those of us more well-versed in kitchen magic. But a common foible of people who cook constantly is that we sometimes forget that a good portion of the rest of the world doesn’t cook much at all. So we tend to be able to do things more quickly and assume a whole hell of a lot on the part of those who are using our recipes. There’s been a lot of chat on the Interwebs about dinner, its trials, tribulations and obligations, including a piece by Virginia Heffernan in the New York Times in which she asks, “What If You Just Hate Making Dinner?”
So here’s how this one went. I roasted three small beets for 30-40 mins at 375. I let them cool, peeled them and then cubed them. I cut off the wilty part of the leek and washed it well, patting it dry and sliced it in half and then created half moons with it down the cutting board. I then started to melt 2 tablespoons of local cultured butter in an 8-inch cast iron pan over medium heat. While that melted, I whisked together 6 eggs and a few tablespoons of milk. Salt and pepper is hard to overdo with eggs. Grind, grind, grind. Stir the leeks, stir the leeks, stir the leeks. I washed probably 4 ounces of spinach, chopped it and readied it for the pan. I added it to the leeks a few minutes later, once they had softened. I let the spinach wilt but not completely; I was able to see the bottom of the pan but there weren’t big spaces. Poured in the egg milk-combo evenly over the pan. We needed something else. I grabbed a great heirloom tomato (can’t believe I’m saying this in October, nearly November), and roughly chopped it. I carefully distributed the chopped beets, chopped tomatoes, and then spooned off some gobs of soft local chevre from Flint Hill Farms (this had vanilla bean and a subtle sweetness, like the beets) and dispersed them throughout the 8-inch cast iron pan. It looked like this:
Somewhere in the middle of all this activity, I preheated the oven to 350 degrees.
I then let the frittata cook on the stove top for about 10 minutes, until it was starting to set around the edges and the middle wasn’t so jiggly. I then transferred it to the oven (thank you, cast iron) so it could bake for another 15 minutes; you’ll know it’s ready because it will be puffy and a bit golden. The tomatoes will look a little roasty, but not wizened or browned. And that’s it. The whole thing took me about 1/2 hour to 45 minutes, not counting the beets. I did them earlier in the day. Beets keep well; you can roast them on the weekend, let them cool and then pop them in the fridge for use during the week. When you’re ready, the skins should peel off easily with your fingers (I like running them under cold water for assistance) or with a peeler.
Here’s what it looked like, when it was finished.
- 1 leek, green parts cut off, washed, sliced in half cut into half moons
- 2 T. butter
- 4 ounces of fresh spinach, chopped
- 6 eggs
- 2 T. milk
- 3 small beets, roasted and cubed, measuring about 1 1/2 to 2 cups
- 2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled or dropped in globs
- 1 large ripe heirloom (or other meaty) tomato, roughly chopped