I’m away from home for a month and it’s funny how my cooking blog has (temporarily) morphed into more of a stream-of-consciousness journal. That’s partly due to the fact that I’m away from my office, my kitchen, and my time-tested way of doing things. It’s funny how you get used to certain equipment (desktop computer, DSLR, macro lens, food processor, 18,000 BTUs) and processes (wine) and feel hobbled without all that stuff. It shouldn’t be that way. I should be able to get by with bare minimums: an iPhone, a whisk, and a simple frittata.
I say frittata because sometimes I get sick to death of my own cooking. Not that I’m a terrible cook but when the energy ebbs, the spirit is exhausted, and the body is hungry I tend to make pasta way too often. I defend myself by pointing out that I know a million variations on the theme and, typically, no two of my pasta preparations are ever quite the same. But these protestations are really just a distraction from the truth. Sometimes the people who must provide the meals are too tired to think of what to cook.
At times like these I usually turn to pasta.
But not this time.
This time I’m cooking in a tiny kitchen in cute rented cottage Santa Barbara, CA. After a week of either bumping into things, or moving things, I’ve come to the conclusion that even a basic pasta dish (the kind that requires lots of chopping, at least two pots, and the space to set aside a few cupfuls of hot pasta water) is impossible!
So I simplified.
Simple suits Santa Barbara anyhow. Gray mornings are often followed by blue skies and blazing red sunsets. Our days are defined by long daily walks, often along the harbor. On the horizon seagulls are circling and the Channel Islands float beguilingly just off shore. Behind me a million red tile roofs cling to the hills, while beside me the sand is graphically lined by the lengthening shadows of tall palm trees. As the sun sets on another dazzling winter day, I begin to suspect that Santa Barbara is capable of providing simplicity in the most enchanting way and makes no apologies for it. So neither will I. With simple as my mantra, I decided to not only make a simple frittata, but to share it here as well.
I’m not the first person to say this but cooking a frittata is simple, requires just a few pantry staples, almost no counter space, and will satisfy your hunger. So I made a simple frittata.
A frittata is a flat Italian omelet that can be eaten hot or cold and the ingredients are limitless. It starts with a little butter or olive oil. Most every household has these staples on hand. Same with eggs. You’ve probably got eggs. Mushrooms and zucchini make classic additions. Onions do too. But suppose you have no mushrooms, zucchini, or even onions? Well, the answer is potatoes. People buy potatoes in big bags and almost always have a few stashed away somewhere.
A potato frittata couldn’t be simpler. For two people you’ll need a medium-sized potato peeled and cut into 1/2‑inch dice, four eggs cracked into a bowl and beaten with a fork until smooth, and maybe some minced garlic. The potatoes and garlic are sauteed in a little butter and/or olive oil. Once softened the beaten eggs are slipped into the pan and left to cook gently. Choose an oven-proof skillet. You may want to finish the dish under the broiler.
That’s it. It’s so simple.
However, as I said, the ingredients in a simple frittata are limitless. One time I added egg noodles. This time I added red bell pepper to the potato and garlic. Which probably doesn’t sound all that creative. After all, a raw red bell pepper is a nice enough vegetable. It’s crunchy and sweet. It’s so basic that even a child will eat it. But roast it or saute it and the humble red bell pepper takes on unexpected grown-up depth. If you stir some roasted bell pepper into your potatoes and garlic just before you add the eggs you’ll have a perfectly simple frittata. You won’t miss pasta one bit. GREG