Saturday, April 21, 2012

Yummy Breakfast: Baked Greek Frittata

In our efforts to eat more healthfully this week, I've been trying to start the day off with a good mix of lean, healthy proteins and healthy, mostly non-starchy-veggie-related carbs.  This way the meal lasts a little longer in terms of digestion and fullness, we get better antioxidants and fiber and a more stable blood sugar to start the day.

But you can only eat so many omelettes before you begin to hate eggs, right?

So I've turned to an old recipe that I did ages ago for this blog in its earliest incarnation:  the crustless egg bake.

It's a sort of casserole, with some eggs, veggies, meat, and cheese all layered in together and cooked into a sort of egg-y souffle/frittata as it bakes in the oven.  The best thing about a dish like this is that you can use up whatever happens to be hanging around the fridge or your pantry, and once everything is mixed together and poured into the baking dish, your work is done until you take it out of the oven.  Have to love something that easy, don't you?

The key is to keep the ratio of add-ins to eggs at about the following:  for every 4 to 6 large-ish eggs (or 1 cup or so of egg whites or egg substitute), make a custard with about 1 to 1 1/2 cups milk.  Your filling should be about 1 to 2 cups of a combination of whatever meats, veggies, etc. you want as your base flavors, and about 1/2 cup to 1 cup of cheese.  If you stick to this basic primer, you'll generally come out fine, although it is pretty flexible so you don't have to rigidly adhere.

This morning, I've thrown together one from some things we had at our house and it smells wonderful.  Here's what I did:

Baked Greek Frittata

1 tsp. olive oil
1 med. yellow onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, cored and diced
4 big handfuls of baby spinach, rinsed and spun dry (about 1 lb. or so)
2 cans artichoke heart quarters, in WATER and NOT the marinated kind, rinsed and drained really, really well
3 whole large eggs
1 c. egg whites (or egg substitute)
1 c. skim milk (you can use half and half here if you like yours richer)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 c. chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
pinch of allspice
1/2 c. feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 c. shredded part skim mozzarella or monterey jack

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Grease a 9x13 baking pan with olive oil or nonstick spray.

Heat 1 tsp. olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over med-low heat.  Throw in the diced onion, give it a stir to coat the onion well, and let the onion cook slowly, stirring occasionally, until it begins to brown and caramelize.  This flavor is what you want, but do it over a low, slow heat so that it doesn't burn as it cooks.

When it gets close to a lovely golden brown color, add in the diced red bell pepper; stir and cook for about a minute and a half.  Then throw in the spinach to wilt.  You may have to do this a handful at a time, stirring to add each handful into the veggie mix.  (If you don't like larger bites of spinach in your eggs, chop it into bite-sized bits before you toss it in the skillet -- this will keep things manageable as you eat.)  While the spinach is wilting down a bit, cut each artichoke quarter in half lengthwise, and spread them out along the bottom of the 9x13 pan.  (A note here:  it is really important to be sure you have drained the artichoke hearts really well.  You don't want excess water in your casserole because then everything will be watery and runny and gross.  Same with the spinach -- give it a good spin in a salad spinner after you wash it or pat it dry with several layers of paper towels.)   When all of the spinach is wilted -- I like mine to still retain a little green when I put it into the baking dish instead of cooking it to death, but YMMV -- pour the veggie mixture into the baking dish and mix around with the artichoke hearts.

Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs, egg whites, and milk until well blended into a custardy consistency.  Whisk in salt, pepper, parsley and allspice.  Sprinkle the feta and mozzarella cheeses over the veggies in the baking dish.  Pour the eggs over all, mix around a bit to get egg and veggie mixed together everywhere, then pop the dish in the oven.  (I put mine on a baking sheet for ease of getting everything in and out and to catch any drips if I've overfilled.  Which I invariably do because I hate to waste anything.)

Bake at 350 F for 35 minutes or so, checking the center of the crustless quiche with a knife by inserting it down through and then pulling it up to see if it comes out clean.  If it comes out with runny egg-looking goo on it?  It isn't done, so keep baking.  Check this at 5 minute intervals until you get a clean knife, pull it out of the oven and let it rest 10 minutes or so before serving.   Serves several people and makes great leftovers reheated for breakfast the next day if you get lucky enough to have any.

(Photo via Inspired RD.)

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