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After going on at length about my love of French omelettes, it might seem like mastering their technique is my one and only omelette obsession. Which is mostly true. But I also love easy dishes that require minimal technique, and, in the world of omelettes, that distinction has to go to the Italian frittata. No stuffing, no folding, nothing complicated—a frittata is as easy as omelettes get.
Sure, one could argue that flipping a frittata midway through cooking is a challenge, but I'd suggest that you don't really need to do that. It's just as easy to avoid all those contortions and acrobatics by popping it under the broiler to set the top.
When do I choose to make a frittata over a French omelette? I do it when I'm feeling lazy, for one, but even more so, I do it when I want to focus less on the eggs and more on the other ingredients—usually vegetables at their shining best. The eggs just hold it all together and provide enough protein to turn it into an easy meal. The appearance of all the great spring produce at the farmers market is just such an occasion. I can't even begin to describe my glee at seeing the piles of lively ramps and the bundles of stout, fresh-picked asparagus on my most recent visit.
Ramps are delicate wild leeks that are foraged mostly in the Northeast and show up in farmers markets this time of year. (You might also see them in gourmet supermarkets or Asian markets.) They have a garlicky aroma, but, instead of garlic's harsh bite, they leave a sweet, leek-like flavor on the tongue. Because they're so delicate, it's not abnormal for even the freshest ones to have a few dings and dark spots on their leaves. So long as the bulbs are healthy-looking, they should be good to go.
When I'd gotten all my vegetables home, I quickly blanched the asparagus to preserve its vibrant green color and fresh sweet taste, and to give it a tender, juicy bite. Then I sliced up the ramps, separating the bulbs from the leaves. (If you don't have ramps, you can easily substitute a diced leek and a couple of cloves of sliced garlic, for a different but delicious flavor.)
I tossed the sliced ramp bulbs and stems in a skillet—you'll want to use either a well-seasoned cast iron or carbon steel skillet, or a nonstick pan—with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and cooked them until they were slightly softened, then added the leaves and let them wilt. After that, I tossed in the chopped-up asparagus and minced thyme, and poured just enough egg over the whole thing to nearly submerge it all.
Just like with scrambled eggs, the way in which you cook the eggs can have a big effect on the results. Recipes that use higher heat and minimal stirring will give you a puffier frittata, with more heavily browned edges and a drier interior curd.
For creamier, moister frittatas (the way I like them), the main thing is to stir the egg constantly at first, until loose curds form throughout, but stop before they permanently separate into fully cooked scrambled eggs. Then give it a minute or two over a moderate flame to help set the eggs on the bottom, before placing the skillet under the broiler to cook the top.
That's it, done. You can serve it right in the skillet or turn it out onto a serving plate; eat it warm or at room temperature, right away or the next day. Like I said, easy. Technique is important, but sometimes it's gotta take a backseat to just really good, simple food.
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