Dinner in 20: Flip Your Frittata for a Quicker Meal, No Broiler Required

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Vegetable scraps + eggs = quick and easy dinner. [Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

The other night I was up late editing some photos and got a bit of the ol' late-night hunger pangs. After realizing I was out of pickles to wrap in slices of Swiss cheese (my standard eaten-by-the-warm-glow-of-the-refrigerator light meal), I spied the carton of eggs and remembered Daniel's excellent tutorial on how to make a Spanish-style tortilla. I quickly pulled out my phone to check my shopping list to see if I was out of potatoes, then stopped myself because I realized I could get the answer much faster by looking at the potato bin right next to me. It was empty.

Luckily I had a fridge full of vegetable and cheese scraps. My tongue turned toward my stomach and flashed electric signals across a vast tunnel of synaptic gaps to deliver one word in three syllables: frit- ta- ta.

My stomach had only just given a genial growl to indicate its approval of the plan when my brain butted in and said ahem, we are not going to be turning on the broiler tonight, daring anyone to challenge it. Cranking the oven on a hot summer evening just wasn't gonna happen.

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Meanwhile, my hands had already started slicing onions and garlic, some asparagus, spinach, and a couple of shishito peppers before my brain had even caught up to what was going on. Most of my brain decided to take a moment to regroup while my hands continued to sauté vegetables. The only part that stuck around to watch was the bit that remembered to sauté the onions separately so that the steam from the other vegetables didn't inhibit any delicious caramelization on the onion bits.

By the time my brain caught up, my hands had already sliced some ham and diced up some cheese (a much nicer way to incorporate it into frittatas and quiches than grating it), whisked some eggs, and deposited them into the skillet.

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So there I was. I suddenly found myself with a frittata cooking in the skillet and no broiler to finish it under. The solution was simple: Just flip it like a Spanish tortilla. Compared to a normal finished-in-the-oven frittata which can take on a poofy, souffléd texture, flipping produces a much creamier, denser omelette. It's a texture I actually prefer.

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As Daniel demonstrated, once you get the hang of it, the process of flipping is really simple and it allows you to put dinner on the table much faster than using the oven (and it saves you from having to heat up the kitchen during the summer). All you have to do is place an empty plate or pot lid over the pan, invert it over the sink (just in case you have any drips), then slide it back into the skillet. You end up with a nice fat omelette that's golden brown on the outside and nice and creamy in the middle.

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After I finished my slice, I covered the rest and left it out for breakfast. My stomach thanked my hands, my hands gave a synaptic high five to my brain, and my eyes remembered seeing the last egg come out of that carton. My thumb flicked on my phone and when I looked down to update my shopping list, my hand decided to smack my head: Turns out I'd never put potatoes on the list anyway.