Tag Archive | "Pesto"

The Frittata Files: Case 1

The Frittata Files: Case 1


If there’s one thing that garners so much praise and excitement for a such small investment in talent, skills, or time, it’s a frittata. As kids, my brothers and I would swoon over the idea of a frittata for dinner, mostly because it gave us an excuse to slather our meal in ketchup. As a parent cooking for five people every night, my mom embraced frittata dinners regularly. And seeing as how my own culinary artistry was founded on eggs, I often like to pretend I’ve slaved away at a home-cooked meal by putting a frittata on the table.

They’re especially handy when you find yourself with a slew of vegetables you don’t know what to do with. Or even better, vegetables your audience might not otherwise like. Peas or fava beans are perfect candidates for the frittata sneak attack, for example. This week we found ourselves with more zucchini than we could handle, so Joe and I threw together this amped up version of my mom’s classic frittata. It’s reminiscent of her usual approach, with simple vegetables, eggs, olive oil, salt, and pepper, but my mom is not one for experimentation in the kitchen (she leaves that to my dad). So when Joe plopped a few tablespoons of pesto into the beaten eggs, I got a grown-up version of the frittata-ketchup joy we felt as kids.

I hesitate to even call a blob of pesto an “experiment,” but considering this version would never be found in my mom’s simple kitchen, it feels a little rebellious. The best part about this particular frittata is that we used Tuesday’s pesto, fresh from my grandfather’s basil harvest. Making this frittata was all we could do to keep from eating the stuff straight with a spoon.


Zucchini Pesto Frittata

3 large eggs
2 tablespoons pesto
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 zucchini, sliced into coins

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Beat the eggs with the pesto, salt, and pepper. Coat a 10- or 12-inch cast iron skillet with olive oil and pour in the egg mixture. Top with a layer of zucchini rounds and cook for 20 minutes, or until the eggs and zucchini are a nice golden color. Serve with ketchup or hot sauce (depending on your crowd), and a sweaty brow.


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The Great Basil

The Great Basil

No one can visit my grandparents’ house in the summer months and leave without a bag full of greens from the garden. People worry about offending them if they refuse the goods, but I think their feeling is more one of panic: I can see the two of them home, surrounded by basil, tomatoes, eggplants, and whathaveyous, bagging produce for guests, worried all that stuff won’t get eaten in time. Perhaps I should petition for them to start a CSA.

Being the helpful granddaughter that I am, I recently raided their garden for the first wave of basil. It was a hit-and-run basil pickup as I stuffed the bag into the car’s back seat. We were on our way to visit my new niece, so the excitement of having them meet their first great-granddaughter dissolved all thoughts of greenery.

When I opened the bag later that night, something seemed amiss. “I thought they gave us basil,” I said to Joe, my authority on all things edible (except for baking). We poked through the bag a little dumbfounded. It looked like a bag of field greens or baby spinach, the leaves were so gigantic. Obviously they weren’t, but I’m so used to seeing puny little basil leaves, two to three inches long at most, that I barely recognized this as basil.

With its identity confirmed, we did what any kids armed with their parents’ recipes and their grandparents’ harvest would do: We made pesto. 

And for dinner, a fresh batch of tomatoes and eggs.

This was also a great excuse to bust out the seasoned salt we picked up from Dario Cecchini at his butcher shop in Tuscany two years ago. I’m such a hoarder with things like this, we’ve hardly used the little jar for fear it will run out.

You can find endless recipes for pesto online, and unless you want tips for experimentation you don’t truly need one for a classic pesto. Just arm yourself with basil, olive oil, pine nuts (or walnuts if you don’t want to splurge on expensive pine nuts), salt, pepper, garlic, and Parmesan. The quantity of each is entirely up to you. Just start by combining the basil and olive oil in a blender or food processor. Add one garlic clove and season to your preferences. Then keep tasting and adding things as you like them. If you’re too fearful to forge ahead without a recipe, this is a great one.

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