Saturday, September 29, 2012

Frittatas and my Experiment with Gluten-Free Dining


Blah blah blah, just skip to the recipe

I always thought of wheat allergies as one of these sketchy phobias new age people develop. It just seems every time you meet someone who says they’re gluten free, they also believe in crystals and talk about “the Goddess.” But recently a friend suggested that my stomach problems and propensity for ligament/ tendon injuries could be related to gluten, so I tried going gluten free for a while. The result was my chronic, lifelong stomach problems improved vastly.

Dropping gluten meant giving up sandwiches and bagels and a lot of other stuff. I tried those expensive, inferior, gluten-free versions of bagels and breads, but decided what I really needed was something new to eat. Eggs seemed a good place to start, and I found a huge list of egg recipes on wikipedia (the Japanese mix them raw into rice, which I found a little gross). That’s how I wound up learning to make frittatas.

A frittata is sort of like a quiche without a crust. They’re often cooked pie-sized and served in slices. I either make a single size for myself in a small pot or a pie for my girlfriend and myself in a small frying pan. I never tried any specific recipe, I just read several and split the difference, resulting in a couple of terrible meals before I got the hang of it. But eventually I found I could make really tasty frittatas.

Time: Probably around 20 minutes, maybe less.

Eggs (I use two large or extra large eggs per person).
Grating cheese (parmesan, romano, asiago, etc.).
Other cheese(s) (cheddar, muenster, swiss, gouda, whatever).
Vegetables (I’ve used zucchini with mushrooms or onions or both. Spinach and broccoli are also be good).
Meat, if you like. (Salmon is pretty good; I haven’t tried anything else.)
Basil or oregano..

Get a sauce pan or a frying pan. I use my smallest sauce pan for my individual-size frittata, but when I make it for two I use my smallest frying pan.

Chop up your vegetables (and meat if you’re using any). I chop everything pretty thin and in fairly small pieces, although not even close to minced. Put a little oil in the pan and swish it around (I always use extra-virgin olive oil because I’ve heard it’s healthier). Swish the oil along the sides too, to make it easier to get out. (Keep in mind that I use non-stick pots, and I don’t know what this experience would be like without them.)

Heat up the oil a bit, then toss in the veggies. I usually cook things like mushrooms and onions on high, stirring constantly, for perhaps five minutes, then I toss in the zucchini for another couple of minutes and turn the heat down to low.

Keeping an eye on the veggies and still stirring them now and again, break the eggs into a bowl, add a little milk and scramble them. I use an egg whisk because I read it gets more air into the eggs and that is presumably what you want.

Grate your cheeses into the eggs. The tricky part is you can’t taste test as you go, so you have to use your best judgment as to how much you’ll need. If you grate the cheese finely, like you would grate parmesan, the your eggs will wind up about the consistency of a medium-thick sauce. 

Sprinkle a little basil or oregano (or both!) into the mixture. Then pour the veggies into the mix, stir it all up, and pour it back into the sauce pan. Put that back on the stove and cook it on low for seven or eight minutes. You want to cook the frittata until it’s almost cooked through, but still a little liquidy on top.

Now you need to cook that top part, which can be done on the range or in the oven. I prefer the oven, because trying to flip it over in a sauce pan would be tricky. Just turn the oven to broil and put the pan in for three minutes. Make sure you have an oven mitt so you can remove the pan again. If you want to flip it and cook the top on the range, I’d say a minute or two would probably be fine. Good luck with that.

If you’ve done it right, it should be awesome. If it’s not awesome, you probably just need more cheese. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever cooked something and then said, “there’s too much cheese in this.”