I remembered being intrigued by the following recipe, from The Italian Cook Book, compiled By Maria Gentile (
Is this authentic? The OED says that a frittata is “A thick, well-cooked Italian omelette, typically containing a selection of meat, cheese, potatoes, etc., usually mixed in with the eggs during cooking, and served open rather than folded.”
What does Marisa say? Here are her words:
Every national cuisine has certain rules and customs. I always like to respect the original ingredients and methods of a recipe, which originates from another country, before creating my own variations.
One of the many Italian dishes that Australians have adopted is frittata, and because it contains eggs, it usually appears on restaurant menus in the breakfast section or as a light meal. In Italy a frittata is a common way to use up leftovers – usually it is made from the pasta (dressed or undressed) or the vegetable contorno (side dish of vegetables) from the night before, much like the English dish bubble and squeak made with shallow-fried left-over vegetables.
This is where we get to the issue of variations.
How often have you seen recipes for frittata, either baked or browned under a grill?
This is the matter of respect. Frittata is always fried and never baked. It is called a frittata because it is fritta (fried) – derived from the verb friggere, to fry.
I have been researching and writing about Sicilian cuisine for a long time and I was intrigued to read that in her book, The Food of Italy, Claudia Roden states that ‘frittate are common throughout
If I may speak from my experience, Roden is wrong about frittata in
The food of
How could Claudia have missed them? Sadly, some sources do not include them – perhaps because frittata were considered so basic, that they didn’t rate a mention? Or perhaps because in Sicilian, frittata is sometimes called other names – milassata and frocia are the most common.
Given the number of different cultures which have influenced Sicilian cuisine, who was responsible for the frittata? Was it the Arabs who made the eggah, the Spanish with their tortilla or the French with the omelette? Most of my references seem convinced it was the Spaniards.
Having told you most frittate are simple affairs, here is a rich tasting and unusual Sicilian recipe with an interesting combination of ingredients – a milassata that combines pumpkin, artichokes and asparagus and the flavours of cinnamon, mint and parsley.
Heat some olive oil into a large heavy-based fry pan. Pour the mixture into hot oil. Fry the frittata on the one side. Turn the heat down to low and, occasionally, with the spatula press the frittata gently on the top. Lift the edges, tilting the pan. This will allow some of the runny egg to escape to the sides and cook. Repeat this process until there is no more egg escaping.
Invert the frittata onto a plate, carefully slide the frittata into the pan and cook the other side.
Sicilian Children’s song and Italian translation:
a‘rrivatu u’rre di Spagna
a puttatu cosi novi
cosi ca vannu fritti cull’ovi
e’ arrivato il re di Spagna
ha portato cose nuove
cose da friggere con le uova
the king of
he has bought new things
things that are fried with eggs.
The olive tree is surely the richest gift of Heaven, I can scarcely expect bread.