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Mangia With Love

Posted Jul 29 2009 10:02pm
I t’s that time of year again. Well, actually, this is the first. It is the anniversary of my grandmother’s death, and, of course, I dedicate to her a recipe.

One of the few things my grandmother loved near till the day of her death were frittatas. Oh, how she loved eggs. Omelets in our house weren’t your customary omelet ordered from a diner. I don’t know if she even knew how to make it look all pretty and everything, so, I always got frittatas after I discovered my passion for eggs. Once I took over the kitchen, it was always, “Make me a frittata. I always love your frittatas”. Most of the time it was rapini frittata or even just simple rapini with eggs and bread. Sometimes she would simply request peas and eggs, too. In her old age, those were simple foods to chew and simple tasting as well. She was never much on exotic flavors nor was she an herb frenzied chef. She was Italian and the primary ingredients were garlic, basil, and oregano - period. I, on the other hand, veered from tradition and wanted to explore more flavors, cuisines, and cultures once the spirit of the chef entered my body. I always was obsessed with Japan ever since I could remember. I loved Asian food and, ironically enough, never cared for Italian. Sure, pasta was great but rice was better. That’s why when I discovered my gluten intolerance, I didn’t mind to abstain from semolina. Barely and oatmeal, on the other hand, yeah, that hurt. I loved barley. God how I miss it.

Occasionally, I’ll go for some pasta in contrast to my lover boy who’ll eat pasta 365 days a week I think. My favorite way of enjoying pasta would honestly be in macaroni and cheese as opposed to doused in a tomato sauce. In fact, I rather have rice noodles. Mom loved those too. Of course, zucchini, courgettes, cocozelle, summer squash - whatever you want to call it - is an Italian must. What was the perfect side dish to a roast pork or chicken cutlets? Zucchini and potatoes. Down here (I love saying that), squash is done differently. Squash, to southerners, is yellow and simmered in butter until it has turned to mush. Yuck. When I prepared it my way for my father in law, he loved it and requested it repeatedly. So, that goes to show that different preparation methods can be a nice change of taste. I can’t deny my northern routes nor hide it apparently. When I went to the doctors the other day, he asked, “So where are you originally from and what the hell brought you to Lynchburg?” I stared at him, blankly. I guess I have more of an accent in this region than I thought. I mean, a guy asked me if I was from New York a while back but I don’t think I have THAT big of an accent. Sheesh.

So, the environment of where you live may change, the audience you cook for may alter, the availability of products may even be limited, but, a chef can never hide their roots and cultural background.

FYI: The confit was made a day in advanced. I only did one, but you can do a bunch of tomatoes and keep it in your refrigerator for about a week.

Zucchini Fakin’ Bacon Pasta Frittata
With saffron cream and tomato confit

The Frittata
2 oz dried pasta, spaghetti or other
1 medium zucchini, quartered and chopped
½ small onion, diced
1 tbsp imitation bacon bits
1 yolk
3 egg whites
Salt and pepper to taste

Saffron Cream
¼ cup nondairy milk
1 tbsp white wine
1 tsp butter
A pinch of saffron threads

Tomato Confit
1 plump red tomato

Bring a pot of water to a boil and add some salt. Break the spaghetti in half or use pasta of choice and cook it until just al dente. Otherwise you’ll have a mushy pasta frittata.

In a small (8”) frying pan sprayed heavily with nonstick cooking spray, sauté the onions until soft. Add the zucchini with a bit of water then cook until just soft. Add the bacon, salt, and pepper. Turn down the heat, stir in the pasta, then flatten everything onto the bottom of the pan. Beat the eggs until combined then pour them all over the contents of the pan. Swirl around repeatedly to assure an even coating. Turn up the heat, and cook until set, prodding the mixture with a fork to make pinholes. This is to let it cook through.

Pre-heat the broiler. If you’re using an oven proof pan, stick it right in. If you aren’t, wrap the handle with tin foil and then place it under the broiler. I have no set time for my frittatas; I just broil it until the crust is crispy brown.

Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Cut the tomato in half or quarters if it is big enough. Season it with salt, pepper, basil, and thyme. Lay the tomatoes face down on the sheet and roast them for approximately 45 minutes. Do enough at a time. I regret only doing a small amount. I think I could eat these straight from a jar.

Wait until cool then scrape into a jar or container and store in the refrigerator or top the frittata just like that.

Saffron Cream
In a small sauce pot, melt the butter. After the butter melts, add the wine. Swirl around till the bottom is pretty coated, then add the saffron, salt, and pepper. Pour in the milk quickly and stir. Bring the pot to a simmer and simmer until you get a reduction of two tablespoons or so. This stuff is also fantastic. Use it on pasta, rice, as a dip with toast, or drink it - okay maybe not the last bit.

Drizzle it over the frittata and eat!

Savor the frittata with a nice crispy green salad to complete your evening. You can even make a larger one and save half for the following day in a sandwich, or, as Italians would, just simply cold like pizza.
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