I’VE been in Riyadh for three days now, and already I’ve seen five car accidents, tripped over my abaya twice, tasted dust, and eaten both emu and crocodile (it was Australian BBQ night at the Windrose Outdoor Restaurant). Emu is fine, if a little gamey; crocodile is rubbery and surprisingly white.
I have also had the occasion to cook for my parents. As the idea was sprung on me without prelude or warning, I fell back on something I know is easy, fast, and usually very good. Something hearty (though a little heavy on the cholesterol), and something designed to free up space in a kitchen. My choice? A midday frittata.
The frittata is a Spanish omelette usually filled with meats and the like. For myself, I like to think of the frittata as a yummy way to clean out the fridge. When I’m going on a trip, contemplating a new culinary exercise, or trying to think up creative ways to empty my refrigerator before stocking it at the local farmer’s market, the frittata is my immediate go-to. Throw in your onions, your broccoli (steam it first!), your cheese; give it your “tired, your poor, your huddled” leftover ingredients (I steal from E. Lazarus perhaps a little too freely), and it will turn them into a masterpiece.
The key, for me, is not so much in the ingredient choice, as this can change from season to season and week to week, but in the spices and herbs. Fresh basil is key. So is garlic, or garlic salt, or garlic powder, whichever you happen to keep in stock. And herbes de provence: if you have no idea what in the world to use them for, then this is the thing.
Regardless, the frittata is a quick-to-make, quick-to-eat dish. Whether you’re entertaining the masses or merely sitting down to a morning in front of the crossword, this is a simple dish to set your brain abuzz.
A Basic Frittata for Three
- 8 eggs
- black pepper
- herbes de provence
- red pepper flakes
- handful fresh basil, hand-shredded
- garlic powder
- assortment of bell peppers, sliced thinly
- 2 large mushrooms, sliced thinly and pre-sauteed in oil
- 2 green onions, sliced
- 1/4 lb cheeese, grated (could be mozzarella, could be cheddar; up to you)
- 1 tomato, sliced thinly
Pre-heat oven to 350F. Butter a deep, square baking pan and set aside.
In a medium-sized bowl, beat the eggs. Add in green onions and vegetables (minus the tomato slices). Mix well. Add in salt and pepper to taste, then 2 pinches of the herbes de provence. Liberally dose with garlic powder and red pepper flakes. Mix in most of the cheese.
Pour into baking dish and give a good stir. You want those spices to stay mixed in! Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top, then decorate with the tomato slices and basil. Bake in oven at 350F for about 20 minutes, or until eggs are cooked through.
Pssst – And just for kicks, the ghetto way to cool your watermelons in Riyadh: