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Something Different
Week of: July 18, 2011
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Contact: Alice Bender, (202) 328-7744

Colorful, Cheap and Healthy – Name This Dish

By Dana Jacobi
for the American Institute for Cancer Research

What can be served as an antipasto, a main dish, or a snack; can be made using vegetables, from asparagus to zucchini, or nearly any other savory ingredient on hand, including spaghetti or smoked salmon; and is equally good served freshly made and hot or leftover at room temperature? A clue: This Mediterranean dish is made with eggs.

Frittata is the answer.

A frittata is one of the most budget-friendly and healthful dishes around. Even with today's ever-increasing food prices, six eggs plus some cheese provide four servings of good protein at reasonable cost. Loading a frittata up with vegetables and herbs from your garden or the market makes it a smart one-dish meal, too.

I find people often have two issues about making a frittata. First, they fear flipping it. Sliding it under the broiler will cook any soft egg left in the center and brown the frittata's top, but you need a pan that fits and has a handle that can stand the heat. And in summer, the oven sure heats up the kitchen. I prefer the slide, cover and flip method described below. If the frittata should stick or break, it will taste great even if it comes to the table looking more like super scrambled eggs.

Watery frittata is the other fear, especially when using spinach, chard or squash, which all contain lots of water. The solution is cooking the vegetables well to drive out most of their moisture. Here, the squash, zucchini, is even browned, which also increases its flavor in the frittata. Mixing cheese into the eggs rather than sprinkling it over the frittata's top, also reduces wetness.

When fresh basil is not readily available, chopped scallions make a good alternative.

Zucchini and Onion Frittata

Zucchini and Onion Frittata

  • Cooking spray, preferably olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 tsp. finely chopped garlic
  • 8 oz. zucchini, cut into 1/8-inch rounds
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, cut cross-wise into thin slices
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Coat pan heavily with cooking spray and set over medium-high heat. Sauté onion until golden, 3-4 minutes. Mix in garlic and cook 1-2 minutes, until onion is lightly browned. Transfer contents of pan to plate to cool..

Coat pan again with cooking spray and return to heat. Add zucchini and cook until slices look moist and translucent. Using tongs, keep spreading and turning zucchini to brown slices on both sides, 8-10 minutes, adding to onion mixture as zucchini slices brown. Wipe out the pan.

In mixing bowl, whisk eggs and whites until well combined. Mix in cheese, salt and pepper. Add vegetables and basil, and mix with fork to combine with eggs.

Add oil to pan and tilt pan to swirl oil around sides. Set pan over medium-high heat. Pour in egg mixture, spreading zucchini and onion in an even layer. As eggs start to set, use wide spatula to lift frittata around edges while tilting pan slightly so liquid egg flows out and under the edges. Cook until frittata is browned on bottom and set except in center, about 8 minutes. Off heat, invert large plate over pan. Pressing it firmly in place against the pan, invert the two so frittata falls from pan onto plate. Slide frittata back into pan and cook to lightly brown bottom, 1-2 minutes longer. Slide frittata onto serving plate. Serve immediately, or cool frittata to room temperature before serving. This frittata also can be covered and refrigerated overnight. Cut into 4 wedges, and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 138 calories, 9 g fat (2 g sat fat), 5 g carbohydrate, 9 g protein,
1 g fiber, 419 mg sodium.

Something Different is written by Dana Jacobi, author of 12 Best Foods Cookbook and contributor to AICR’s New American Plate Cookbook: Recipes for a Healthy Weight and a Healthy Life.

Our Mission: The American Institute for Cancer Research champions the latest and most authoritative scientific research from around the world on cancer prevention and survival through diet, weight and physical activity, so that we can help people make informed lifestyle choices to reduce their cancer risk.

We have contributed over $105 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. Find evidence-based tools and information for lowering cancer risk, including AICR’s Recommendations for Cancer Prevention, at www.aicr.org.

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