Light, Quick, and Delicious: Zucchini and Red Pepper Frittata

This time of year, it’s great to have a quick yet light dish in your back pocket for those evenings when either you’re running late or you’re just not that hungry. Frittatas are a wonderful way to get your protein and vegetables; think a quiche without the crust, making it edible for those who are gluten-intolerant. Saute some veggies together, mix up some eggs, milk, and cheese, pour into a pan, and pop it into the oven. Dinner is ready in about 20 minutes!

I made this one lazy Tuesday night and served it with some steamed baby beet greens with butter and vinegar (my favorite way to have them) . It was the perfect meal; I wasn’t that hungry, but needed to eat something. I realized the red pepper was supposed to be roasted when I started. I already was running late, so I skipped that step, and sautéed them with the zucchini. I’m sure a roasted red pepper would be delicious, but if you need to save time, sauteing it was just fine.

With the basic egg and milk mixture, I thought of different vegetable combinations that could be delicious: chard, yellow squash, spinach, asparagus, mushrooms, young onions, maybe goat cheese instead of cheddar. Basically, a trip to the farmer’s market!

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Zucchini and Red Pepper Frittata
This recipe originally appeared in the July 2014 issue of Cooking Light magazine.

Yield: Serves 6|

1 large red bell pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large zucchini, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
3/4 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces white cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
4 large eggs, lightly beaten

1. Preheat broiler to high.
2. Cut bell pepper in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membranes. Place, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet; flatten with hand. Broil 8 minutes or until blackened. Wrap ­pepper in foil; let stand 15 minutes. Peel and slice.
3. Preheat oven to 350°.
4. Heat a 9-inch nonstick, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add zucchini; cook 6 minutes. Stir in bell pepper; reduce heat to medium.
5. Combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Add to zucchini mixture; cook 2 minutes or until edges are set. Bake at 350° for 16 minutes or until center is set. Let stand 15 minutes. Cut into 6 wedges.

MVK’s Endorsement of the Week: Try a Solo Lunch!
amuseIt has been years since I took myself out to lunch, but that’s what happened last week when I was in town for a seminar. I went to the bookstore to buy a novel I’ve been wanting to read and then walked around looking for a spot where I could have an al fresco lunch since the day was picture perfect: not too hot, a cool breeze, and low humidity. Being noon and a Friday, my first destination didn’t have outside tables available and I was pressed for time, but decided to continue my search. On a side street, away from the hustle and bustle and foot traffic, I found a lovely café with plenty of outdoor seating. The menu was small, but I decided on a favorite, Asparagus Risotto.

Either they give this to every diner, it was slow and the chef was experimenting, or they felt sorry for me because I was by myself, but I was treated first to an amuse-bouche. A crostini with caramelized onions and thyme, a slice of brie, a Granny Smith apple, and topped with a drizzle of maple syrup. (I wrote this down, so I can make it at home some day!). It was delicious and was just the right amount to tide me over until my entree.

risotto2The risotto was a dish of heaven. Creamy, with wild mushrooms and asparagus, lemon zest, and what I think was spicy paprika, since it was red and had a bit heat to it. It was just the right portion, total comfort food, and was absolutely delicious!

I checked in with my friends in London and Seattle, started my book, and thoroughly enjoyed having someone wait on me and do the cooking! If you ever find yourself in this situation, don’t be afraid to ask for a table for one; enjoy and meditate on the quietness and delicious food all by yourself. It put me in a good mood for the rest of the day!

A Potluck Savior

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Hello, September.

Even though I love to cook, that doesn’t mean time is always on my side. And just because we’re past Labor Day weekend doesn’t mean you won’t be invited to a potluck supper or tailgate football party in the near future. When I am invited to a gathering and asked to bring a dish but I don’t have time to delve into my cookbooks to find that special something, I fall back on my potluck savior, Deviled Eggs. Almost everyone likes them and I guarantee you will go home with just your plate!

I usually think of these eggs as a summer dish, but you honestly can make them year-round for any get together–and I have. And making these are easy and includes three main ingredients: eggs, mustard, and mayonnaise, with a dash of salt and pepper and some paprika on top. The most time-consuming part is the boiling of the eggs!

Helpful Kitchen Tip: If you want to be a bit more upscale with your eggs, add a couple dashes of curry powder or some snipped chives to the filling. And if you want them to look extra special, place the mixed yolks into the corner of a plastic bag, snip off the end so you have a make-shift piping bag (like one used for frosting), and add the yolks to the egg whites in a fancy rosette!

Instructions:

Step 1. Take a Dutch oven and fill it with water. Put in as many fresh eggs as you would like, I usually make a dozen, and make sure all the eggs are covered with water. Bring the pot to a boil and cook at a simmer for about 15 minutes. When done, drain the eggs in a colander, place them back in the pot, and continue to flush with fresh, cold water until the eggs are cooled. From here, you can either make the eggs or set them in a bowl in the fridge until you are ready for Step 2.

Step 2: Carefully peel the shell off of each egg and place them in a bowl. With a sharp paring knife, slice each egg in half vertically, placing the egg white on a platter and the egg yolk in a separate bowl.

Step 3: Take a fork and mash the egg yolks until all are broken. Add a little bit of mayonnaise to the yolks, mix, then add a little bit of mustard (Dijon or yellow). I keep alternating these bit by bit until I have the right consistency as well as the right flavor. (I always use more mustard than mayonnaise.) Add salt and pepper to taste.

Step 4: With a teaspoon or with the plastic bag method noted above, fill each egg white with a bit of the yolk and continue until they are all equally divided. Sprinkle some paprika powder (I like the hot Hungarian for some heat) over the egg yolks and voilà! Your appetizer is ready for company!

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The “I’m-Too-Busy-And-Stressed-To-Make-Dinner” Frittata

Last week, I spent an evening packing, cleaning, cooking, and preparing for a couple of nights away from home for the annual pilgrimage to Lake George with the girls. Time spent away from home that includes nothing but talking, laughing until we (I) cry, wine, good food, sun, and swimming. After packing just some t-shirts, shorts, and my bathing suit, I needed to pack up my food and make a peach pie. I always get stage fright before making a pie crust; even though it usually comes out decent, I get nervous I’ll totally botch it, so I leave it until the very last minute (which really doesn’t make sense for someone who lives miles from the closest grocery store for replacement ingredients . . . but I digress). It was after 7 p.m. when I began, which, with the counters covered in flour, sugar, and butter, left little room for making dinner.

As I was mixing the dough and rolling it out, I started to think about what I wanted to eat for supper. No time! I thought. I have no time to cook something separate, I have to get this pie made and baked and it was nearing 8 p.m. and had to work the next morning as we were leaving right after work. But, I knew I had some baby potatoes, fresh broccoli, garlic, and dill, cheese, and eggs in the fridge. So as I rolled out the dough, I started dreaming up this recipe for a frittata.

My description of a frittata is a crustless Quiche, which is good, since I was in no mood to make more than one crust that evening. I already had a saucepan of boiling water on stove to take the skins off the peaches, so I thinly sliced about four of the baby potatoes and set them in the water. They took just a few minutes to get tender before taking them out. I chopped a couple of cups of the broccoli and put it in the pan to blanch. I put both into a big bowl and added a clove of minced garlic, stirred, and set aside so I could finish making the pie. I actually thought with a little bit of lemon juice and a few gratings of cheese this would make an excellent dinner on its own, but wanted a little more protein. (I did make this as a side dish a few evenings later and it was superb!)

As I waited for the oven to preheat, I took four eggs, a splash of milk, a bit of feta cheese, fresh dill, and mixed everything together in a separate bowl. Added it to the bowl of veggies and placed it into a greased pie pan. Here is where it gets a little tricky with timing. Because I had the oven on for the pie, I cooked everything together. So I cooked the frittata on the top rack at 425º for ten minutes, then moved it to the bottom rack to bake at 325º for 30 minutes or so, or until the center had set. In hindsight I would have used maybe a cast iron skillet, because with just four eggs it was too thin in my opinion, but still delicious.

I sat down at 8:30 to a small glass of white wine and a slice (or two) of the frittata and I was one happy, satisfied, and less stressed cook, so unstressed that I forgot to take a photo! Oh, and the pie? It was delicious and received compliments–even on the crust!

I’m-Too-Busy-And-Stressed-To-Make-Dinner Frittata
4-5 new baby potatoes, thinly sliced
A couple of cups of chopped broccoli
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
4 eggs
A splash of milk
About ¼ cup of feta cheese, or to taste
Fresh dill, chopped
Salt and pepper

In a saucepan of boiling water, add the potatoes and boil a few minutes until tender. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a large bowl. Add the broccoli to the water and blanch, just a minute or two in the water, and add to the potatoes. Add the minced garlic and salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, mix the four eggs, milk, dill, and cheese. Add to the vegetable mixture and place in a greased pie pan. Cook at 425º for ten minutes, then 325º degrees for 30 minutes, or bake at 350 for about half an hour or until the middle is set.