Thursday, October 27, 2011

Greek Frittata

My neighbors left me in charge of their chickens this week.  Well, not me exactly.  They asked my oldest son if he would collect the eggs from their coop while they are on a Disney cruise.  He's very enthusiastic about the job, but let's face it- he's six years old.  His priority when he gets home from school is not checking on chickens, it's grabbing a snack and trying to charm me into letting him play LEGO Star Wars on the Wii.  So I get to remind him that he told our friends he would collect the eggs and he can't forget about his responsibility.  He promptly grabs a bowl and we head the two houses down to say hi to our favorite laying hens.  He likes the job, he just can't ever remember to do it.  The upside to all this is that I get to keep the eggs we find and we've gotten about a dozen so far this week.  Score!

If you live near a farm, on a farm, or near some friends who have what may or may not be a legal chicken coop in their suburban backyard you've probably been lucky enough to come across some fresh eggs.  I grew up in the suburbs of New Jersey and hadn't seen chickens except on display for the little kids at the farmstand up the road.  So when I found fresh eggs for sale at the Thursday market in our little Washington town a few years back, I scooped them up without hesitation.  Those eggs cost me a pretty penny, something like $6 a dozen.  But the gorgeous golden color of those egg yolks and the fantastically rich flavor helped to ease the pain.  I didn't realize that the eggs we buy in the stores are weeks if not months old and the dull yellow color was not what an egg yolk is supposed to look like.  So now, when my neighbor offers me a dozen eggs, I don't hesitate to say yes.  I know how much they would cost to buy and how much better they will make the food I cook with them.  They are beyond compare.

What do you do when you have two dozen beautiful fresh eggs in your fridge?  You make breakfast.  In my case, breakfast for dinner in the form of a fluffy, creamy, slightly spicy Greek-inspired frittata.  I love frittatas because they're quick to whip up and you can put just about any ingredient you can think of in one.  This one is a favorite of mine because I get to use feta cheese, which I absolutely adore.  The colors are beautiful with the bright red of the peppers and vibrant green and pink of the swiss chard.  And everyone in my family loves it- so much so that my husband had 2 big slices for dinner and two more for breakfast the next day.  If that doesn't say love, I don't know what does.

Greek Frittata
This frittata is not only a nice family dinner or breakfast, it would also be a welcome addition to a brunch buffet or whipped up for overnight holiday guests.  I like to serve it with homemade hash browns and these sun dried tomato biscuits (minus the red onion).

1 medium onion, chopped
8 oz mild italian sausage, casings removed and broken up into 1 inch pieces (spicy sausage, while I love it with pasta in a tomato sauce will overwhelm the other flavors in this recipe)
12 eggs
1/3 cup heavy cream or milk
1 red bell pepper, chopped
12 oz swiss chard, stems removed and chopped (spinach would work well too)
4 oz feta cheese, crumbled
pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.  Spray nonstick spray in an 8 x 8 inch baking dish and set aside.

Put 1 tbs olive oil in a medium skillet and place over medium-high heat.  When the oil is hot, place the onions in the skillet and saute until soft and translucent, about 4 minutes.  Add the sausage to the pan and cook until browned (about an additional 5 minutes).  Remove the pan from the heat and cool.

In a large bowl, whip the eggs with a whisk until slightly frothy.  Add the cream or milk and whisk with the eggs.  With a wooden spoon, fold in the peppers, swiss chard, feta cheese and the onion/sausage mixture.  Add a pinch or black pepper.  I don't add any salt to the egg mixture because I find that the feta adds enough salty flavor to the frittata.  Pour the mixture into the prepared pan.

Bake for 45-50 minutes.  The edges will brown and the top will feel firm to the touch.  Cool for 10 minutes, them cut into 3 inch squares and serve.

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