Recently, I’ve been seeing piles of squash arriving in at the local farmers market. This means, it’s time to bring out those recipes that use zucchini (also known as courgettes) to use up this year’s crop. I found this recipe in a British magazine when I was living there, but I’m not sure where my copy of it got to in all my changes of households over the years. At some point, I’d tweaked it and modified it so much that I might have even tossed out the original instructions. Now, I just recreate it from memory whenever I have a craving for it.
Having picked up a bag of mixed zucchini (courgettes) and summer squash at the Greenmarket this week, along with a dozen eggs and cheddar cheese from one of my favorite stands, I knew that I was going to put this together for brunch over the holiday weekend. I also snapped up a couple of sets of red and black raspberries to add to the dish as a garnish. This frittata is terrific to serve on the breakfast side or the lunch side of brunch, so adding a green salad would also work, too.
This recipe would be great to make for a picnic, as well. It doesn’t need to be served scorching hot; room temperature will do. It also packs up well to pop in the oven or microwave to reheat for a quick and easy meal on the go, as you’re running out the door to get to work (or even when you are already there before answering the a.m. barrage of emails and phone calls). One of the reasons this is in my keeper file is that it is not only delicious, but flexible and quick and easy to make. It’s a good option for those Breakfast for Dinner nights, too.
Courgette Frittata / Zucchini Frittata
Prep time: 30-45 minutes
Serving size: 4-6 people (depends upon how big you’d like the portions to be)
3 medium-sized Courgettes / Zucchini (dark and/or light green),
3 oz. (75 g) Cheddar Cheese, white, mild (not extra-sharp)
5 Eggs, large (can also use 2 whites and 3 whole eggs)
1 pinch Salt
1/4 tsp. (1-2 g) Black Pepper, freshly ground
2 Tbsp (30 g) Shallot, finely minced (about 1 medium shallot)
1 Tbsp (15 g) Unsalted Butter
1 tsp. (5 g) Olive Oil
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Centigrade / Gas Mark 4). Trim the end of the courgettes (zucchini) and move them cross-wise on the large holes of a box grater to create large shredded pieces. Stop just before you get to the end of the courgettes (zucchini), as you don’t want to use that part (like the photo above). You should end up with around 200 grams (or 8 ounces or 1 packed cup) of vegetables. Squeeze the courgette (zucchini) using cheesecloth or a clean dishtowel (or your hands – I usually do it that way) over the sink until most of the water is gone from it. Set it aside.
Grate the cheddar cheese on the large holes of a box grater. Put that to the side until ready to mix with the courgettes (zucchini). Chop the shallots very finely. Also set that aside until ready to cook them. You’ll end up with separate piles of the ingredients ready to be combined with the eggs.
The next step is a bit of a fussy one, but it’s one that I use when making omelets as well, too. I separate the egg whites from the yolks (darn – there’s always that one yolk that falls apart!). Then, I whisk the yolks until they are smooth and creamy. Into the egg yolks, I add the shredded courgettes (zucchini) and cheddar cheese along with the salt and pepper. Stir to combine all these ingredients.
Whip up the egg whites until they are light and frothy. They should not get anywhere near the meringue stage, just agitated enough to break down the structure of the whites and make them more liquid and fluffy.
Pour the courgette (zucchini) mixture into the egg whites. Gently fold in the courgette mixture until it is thoroughly combined with the egg whites.
Place a 23 cm / 10-inch ovenproof skillet on the stove over low to medium heat. Put butter and olive oil in the skillet so that the butter melts and the liquid combines with the oil. Add the shallots and cook until they are softened, about 1-2 minutes.
Pour in the frittata ingredients. Very quickly give a couple of gentle stirs to combine the shallots and butter/oil into the courgette (zucchini) mixture so that they are incorporated with the vegetables, cheese, and eggs. Leave the frittata alone to cook on the stovetop for 5 minutes until the frittata is mostly set but still wet and jiggling a bit in the middle, like with a custard.
Put the pan into the oven and let the frittata cook for another 5-10 minutes until it is completely set and is golden brown around the edges (check to see how it is doing after 5 minutes). The top of the frittata should still be a nice, sunshine-y yellow. *Leave it in the pan on a trivet or the stovetop to cool for a few minutes before cutting into it. Serve warm or at room temperature or save for eating later.
Kitchen Witch Tip:*
When the pan in which you cooked the frittata comes out of the oven, it will be scorching hot, enough to really hurt the person who touches it bare-handed. I know this sounds like it makes common sense, but when you have people running around your kitchen or you’re greeting guests, there’s that one split second when you might forget just how fired-up this cooking implement really is. It will take quite while for it to cool down.
In the professional kitchen (and as we were taught to do in culinary school), there’s a a couple of ways we indicate to our fellow team members that they might want to take caution when handing a hot pan. A. leave a side towel wrapped around it or B. sprinkle flour on it to make it stand out. In your own home kitchen, wrapping a towel around the handle or covering it with a potholder, as in the photo above, are good options. Just remember to let the person washing your dishes know that the handle is hot before he/she slips off the covering and places it in the sink. (It’s probably not necessary to say “caliente” before handing into to him/her to clean, as we do in the restaurant.)