The frittata is one of those categories of dishes, like risotto, where the main ingredient, in this case egg, can act as a foil to an almost infinite variety of flavors, being it meat, fish or vegetable. So by learning a single technique, you open up a whole new culinary galaxy. One of my favorite frittate, especially this time of year, is made with artichokes.
First, trim the artichoke in the usual Italian manner. Then cut the artichoke into very thin wedges and leave them in acidulated water. Then light sauté one or two slightly crushed garlic cloves in oil olive until it just begins to brown. Drain and add the artichoke wedges to the oil (don’t worry if some water clings to them, it will actually help them to cook more quickly), season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat the wedges. Then lower the heat and cover. Allow the artichokes to stew for about 10-15 minutes, or until the artichoke wedges are quite tender. Uncover, raise the heat, and add a tritto of finely chopped garlic, parsley and mint. Mix well and sauté this mixture for a minute or two more. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
While the artichokes are cooling, beat some eggs along with salt, pepper and some grated parmesan cheese. Fold in the artichoke wedges once they’ve cooled a bit (you don’t want them to start cooking egg) and proceed in the usual manner for making frittata, either slowing browning it on both sides in a non-stick skillet, or frying one side and finishing off the other under the broiler, until nicely browned.
Frittata can be served immediately, but they taste much better either lukewarm or at room temperature.
NOTES: This frittata is especially good made with those small ‘baby’ artichokes. You trim baby artichokes in the same way you would a large globe artichoke, but it is actually quite a bit quicker and easier, as the leaves are more tender and, of course, there is less to trim. And most baby artichokes will not have formed that fuzzy core known as the ‘choke’, so you should make short work. The stem on a baby artichoke is much thinner as well, so I usually use a peeler rather than a paring knife. Otherwise, you may find yourself cutting the stem right off.
What about measurements, you ask? Well for a normal sized skillet, I find that six large eggs and say, four or five baby artichokes work well. That will make enough for 2-4 people, depending on appetites and what else you may be serving along with the frittata.
One nice variation is to add, instead of or in addition to the parmesan cheese, small cubes of fontina or another semi-soft cheese like Emmenthal or Munster, to the egg and artichoke mixture before you begin to slow-fry the frittata. It provides a nice creamy balance to the slightly astringent quality of the artichokes.
Frittate are quite versatile, by the way. They can serve as antipasto, primo or second, depending on your mood and the rest of the menu. They make wonderful snacks, or as filling between two slices of pane pugliese makes a delicious ‘peasant’ sandwich.