Monday, February 21, 2005

Spinach and Roasted Pepper Frittata

Years ago, my friend Emilie gave me a copy of Annie Somerville's Fields of Greens: New Vegetarian Recipes from the Celebrated Greens Restaurant for my birthday. At first, I was a little intimidated by the book, and it took me a couple of years to warm up to it, but when I finally did, I really did. It's been a favorite cookbook ever since. The recipes are lively and delicious, with an emphasis on the use of seasonal vegetables, fresh herbs, and just the perfect amount of spice, and it's one of a number of cookbooks that I can think of that make a lie of that tired old line about vegetarian cuisine being boring and unsophisticated. I consider it a bit of a classic of California-style cuisine.

One of Somerville's recipes that we've gotten the most enjoyment out of is the following frittata recipe. It's been the centerpiece for a number of successful brunches we've held.

1 1/2 tbs light olive oil
2 bunches of spinach, stems removed and leaves washed, about 16 cups packed
Salt and pepper
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 yellow or red bell pepper, roasted, peeeled and diced
2 scallions, both white and green parts, sliced on a diagonal
1 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated, about 1/3 cup
3 oz. feta cheese, crumbled, about 3/4 cup
1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
8 eggs, beaten
3 tbs Reduced Balsamic Vinegar

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Heat 1/2 tbs of the olive oil in a large skillet. Wilt the spinach over high heat with 1/4 tsp salt, a few pinches of pepper, and the garlic. Drain and cool the spinach. Squeeze out the excess moisture a handful at a time and coarsely chop. Place the spinach in a bowl with the peppers, scallions, Parmesan, feta, rosemary, and lemon juice. Stir the eggs into the mixture and add 1/4 tsp salt and a few pinches of pepper.

In a 9-inch pan with an ovenproof handle (or one that you've temporarily ovenproofed with aluminum foil), heat the remaining tablespoon of oil to just below the smoking point. Swirl the oil around the sides of the pan to coat it, turn the heat down to low, then immediately pour the frittata mixture into the pan. The pan should be hot enough so that the eggs sizzle when they touch the oil. Cook the frittata over low heat for 1 to 2 minutes, until the sides begin to set; transfer to the oven and bake, uncovered, for 20 to 25 minutes, until the frittata is golden and firm.

Loosen the frittata gently with a rubber spatula; the bottom will tend to stick to the pan. Place a plate over the pan, flip it over, and turn the frittata out. Brush with the vinegar if you like. Serve warm or cool to room temperature. Cut into wedges and serve.

The frittata can also be cooked entirely in the oven. Pour into a lightly oiled baking dish and bake for about 25 minutes, until the eggs are golden and set.

Serves eight to ten.

To make Reduced Balsamic Vinegar:
In a small saucepan over high heat, reduce the vinegar to half its original volume. (For a more intensely flavored reduction, bring the volume down to one-third.) Be careful that all of the vinegar doesn't boil away as you reduce it. Cool and store in a sealed jar along with your other vinegars or refrigerate.

[both recipes from Annie Somerville's Fields of Greens]


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