Food: The Frittata's Italian Roots

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Italian frittatas have become a brunch mainstay. They are something you are just as likely to see on your local cafe's menu as eggs benedict or French toast. More than just a crustless quiche, frittatas differ from your other beaten egg dishes in their slower cook time, uniform browning, and heavily-whisked eggs, which create a more custard-like filling (via The Spruce Eats). Endlessly customizable, they are a great blank slate for any number of seasonal veggies and cheeses.

Italian vegetable frittata © OlegD/Shutterstock Italian vegetable frittata

Delicious as they may be, sometimes you don't want to fuss over a fancy French omelet, and that is where the frittata's appeal really comes in. In place of a delicate stirring and rolling, you get the simplicity of whipping your eggs, mixing in any fillings you like, and pouring the mixture right into a pan for a leisurely browning. Yet, for all that non-effort, you still get rewarded with a creamy, filling breakfast that can easily feed an entire family. But what is the frittata's connection to Italy?

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Frittata Is An Italian Home Cooking Staple

sliced potato frittata © Lyudmila Zavyalova/Shutterstock sliced potato frittata

According to DeLallo, the word frittata is based on the Italian word "to fry," which should tell you how basic this kind of dish is meant to be. In Italy, frittatas are used as a real utility dish; nothing fancy, just an easy, quick way to throw together a meal. While eggs may be the base, they aren't the star like in an omelet, the focus is on the fillings, which get mixed in at a much higher ratio, with The Kitchn recommending a ratio of 2 cups of filling for every six eggs. Frittatas are meant to be a last-minute improv, using leftovers or spare pantry ingredients to feed a group.

DeLallo also notes that unlike frittatas in the U.S. they are actually not a common restaurant item over in Italy, they are considered the purview of the home cook. Because of how robust it is, and how well it still tastes cold or at room temperature, frittata can stand alone as a whole meal and isn't just reserved for breakfast either, Italians will even add leftover pasta for a truly filling meal that works as a quick dinner. Try potatoes or throw together garlic and mushrooms. But a true Italian frittata is filled with whatever sounds good to you right when you make it.

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