Bid a Fond Farewell to Guests With a Garden Frittata
Having houseguests for Thanksgiving weekend is much more than sharing a celebratory meal. The holiday weekend is filled with conversation, breakfast, a walk in the meadow, lunch, a nap, dinner, a movie, breakfast, shopping, lunch, a walk by the river, dinner, conversation, a farewell brunch and warm goodbyes.
A “Thanks for Coming — Have a Safe Trip” brunch is the perfect way to end a busy weekend. Cooking classic French omelets will certainly impress your guests, but omelets require an omelet pan, careful cooking, and are cooked and served one at a time. That’s a lot of work for a weary cook, so I make one frittata, in my largest cast-iron skillet, rather than four individual omelets.
I include a few carefully chosen leftovers, and while it cooks there’s enough time to saute the grapes and gather the guests. Sauteing grapes takes almost no time and adds a tasty zing to the meal.
The frittata I made involved a bit of mindful shopping and some serendipity in the kitchen. I bought goat cheese, mushrooms, a sweet red pepper, a couple of tomatoes and a bunch of large seedless red grapes at the market — everything else I needed was in the pantry. This is a flexible recipe without precise ingredients or amounts. Here’s how I made it:
2 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon olive oil
½ cup of onions, thinly sliced
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
1 sweet red pepper, diced
a pinch of dried red pepper flakes
3 medium potatoes
¼ cup milk
1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley, chopped
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
4 Tablespoons goat cheese
2 small tomatoes, seeded and diced
I heated the butter and oil in my cast-iron skillet and when the oil was shimmering, I added the onions, mushrooms, red pepper and red pepper flakes, and sauted the mixture over medium heat. I zapped the potatoes in the microwave for a couple of minutes, until they were tender, and then sliced them and added them to the vegetables in the skillet. I stirred the mixture occasionally and cooked it over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables were soft and beginning to brown. I turned on the broiler to preheat before I prepared the eggs.
I used a whisk to beat the eggs with the milk, parsley, kosher salt and black pepper and then poured the eggs over the vegetables and let the frittata cook over medium heat without stirring, until the bottom had set and the top was beginning to set. I topped the frittata with lumps of goat cheese and the tomato and finished cooking it in a few, carefully monitored minutes, under the broiler.
2 cups large, seedless red or black grapes
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
My friend Victoria had finished packing and offered to help with the grapes. She used a paper towel to dry the washed seedless red grapes and then sauted them in butter until they were warmed through and looked shiny and pink; it took about three minutes.
When the cheese was melted and the grapes were sauted, we sat down to a memorable brunch, enlivened by strong coffee and spirited conversation.
Our last set of leaf-peeper houseguests were smiling, (and so were we), as they pulled out of the driveway after a frittata and fried grape brunch. Frittatas welcome creative variations. You might add cooked asparagus or scallions. Substitute cheddar, Swiss or cream cheese instead of goat cheese. Smoked fish, fresh herbs, leftover turkey, tomato sauce, chunks of cooked sweet potato, chili or even caviar are possible additions. Adding a couple of tablespoons of sweet cranberry sauce to the grapes during the last minute of cooking will glaze the grapes and add holiday flair. With eggs, seasonings, a trusty skillet or nonstick pan, and a willingness to experiment, you can create a brunch that your guests will remember until their next visit.
I’d love to hear what you’ve created.
Carol Egbert lives in the Upper Valley, where she paints and cooks. Her food blog can be found at www.carolegbert.com.