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What is Frittata?

Frittata in a skillet.
A frittata may be made with vegetables, meat, or both.
Garlic is a traditional frittata ingredient.
Fontina cheese can be included in a frittata.
Salt and pepper are included in frittata.
Spinach can be added to a frittata.
To lower the amount of cholesterol in a frittata, egg whites can be used instead of the whole egg.
Frittata is traditionally spiced with nutmeg.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 14 October 2014
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The frittata is an Italian dish, similar in composition to an omelet. Unlike an omelet, however, the egg mixture is not folded over and finished on the stove top. Most variants of the frittata start with a few moments on the stove top until the bottom layer of the egg mixture has solidified, and then are baked in the oven for half an hour to an hour depending upon the size and recipe.

The traditional Italian frittata may have been an important meal during observation of Lent. In these cases it would not have been served with meats, but might have grated cheese as well as a few vegetables added. Food historians believe the frittata probably predates the omelet in origin.

Recipes for the frittata can be quite simple, and the result excellent for brunches or lunch, since it is often served at room temperature instead of hot like an omelet. Additionally, there are some recipe versions that are not initially fried, so one can bake a large frittata in a glass baking dish, suitable for serving many people. Tasting much like an omelet, the frittata is often preferable to make, because although cooking time is longer, it requires less attention once it is baking. Making individual omelets, on the other hand, means some guests may have to wait to be served unless one is able to use several burners at once.

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Traditional Italian ingredients for the frittata include Italian sausage or ham, sweet peppers, fontina cheese, garlic, onions, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Since the frittata has been adopted by so many cultures, there are a number of different recipe suggestions for the dish. Southwestern frittata served with hot peppers, pepper jack cheese, and grilled pork is popular. A Kosher variety mixes eggs, cheese, and matzaball mix together. Frittatas can benefit from the addition of potatoes, finely chopped or grated zucchini and carrots, mushrooms, or different cheeses.

A general rule is to be sure that any vegetables used do not add much liquid to the overall dish. If one plans to use tomatoes, for example, these should be sliced and dried on a rack for about 15 to 30 minutes to prevent a mixture that may not bake properly because of the excess liquids. Additions of cooked spinach should be well dried to avoid the same.

To avoid a high cholesterol dish, there are recipes for frittatas using egg whites rather than whole eggs. They do not exhibit the pleasing yellow color of the whole egg variety. However, many find them equally delicious.

In considering serving size, one egg will generally serve one person. Therefore, a six-egg recipe would likely make six servings. One can adjust recipes by proportionately adding additional eggs and ingredients to yield more servings. A frittata baked in a 10X13 inch (25.4X33.02 cm) pan will yield about 8-10 generous servings.

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