A frittata is another one of those dishes that lends itself well to the dog days of summer: quick and easy to prepare, amenable to eating hot or cold, and it keeps well, overnight or even longer. And, of course, it can accommodate an almost infinite variety of fillings that can change with the seasons.
The summertime frittata I may like best is zucchini frittata. The combination is a classic one that appears time and again in Italian cooking. There is something about the mild and slightly sweet taste of cooked zucchine that lends itself to eggs. (For an example, see my recipe for zucchine cacio e uova.)
- 6-8 eggs
- 2-3 smallish zucchine
- Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper
- A good handful of grated cheese
Making a frittata is one of the basic techniques of Italian cooking, and territory we’ve already covered on this blog (see the link at right or click here for the master recipe, “How to Make a Frittata”).
When making a zucchini frittata, you start by slicing your zucchini into thin rounds and fry them until soft in olive oil. I like to brown them just slightly—not too much—and actually let them get pretty soft—but not mushy—to emphasize their natural sweetness.
Then mix the sautéed zucchini with beaten eggs, salt, pepper and lots of grated cheese. For this dish, a mild pecorino (such as a pecorino toscano) does nicely, as would grana padano or parmigiano-reggiano. Of course, you can get a bit crazy and try something entirely different, but I’d avoid a cheese that’s too sharp, as it would overwhelm the delicacy of the zucchini.
The mixture goes into a skillet to fry in a bit of olive oil. As explained in the master recipe, there are different methods for cooking the top of a frittata once the bottom has browned. This time, feeling a bit lazy, I just ran the skillet under a broiler for a few minutes, until the top was nice a golden brown.
Your zucchini frittata will be at its best if you can find smallish zucchini. They taste so much better than the sometimes gigantic varieties found in supermarkets. I also prefer the kind with spottled skin rather than the dark green variety which when I first moved back to the States I would regularly mistake for cucumbers! If you can only find large ones, you may want to cut them into quarters length-wise before slicing them. You don’t want large chunks of vegetable in your frittata—you want small bits so you get a bit of veg and egg in every bite.
Frittate—zucchini frittata included—are best, I think, served either at room temperature or just slightly warm. The taste of the filling is much more pronounced when the dish is not too hot and the rest while it’s cooling seems to enhance the flavor.