Fennel, tomato, basil & parmesan frittata

I’ve been feeling a little uninspired in the kitchen lately, bored by the intense heat of this incredibly dry summer. When it’s so hot outside, I don’t want to turn on the oven or have a steaming pot on the stove, but endlessly planning two meals a day without much cooking has left me rolling my eyes each time the question “what shall we have for dinner?” is raised. A few nights ago, I lingered in front of the open fridge, nosing through the rather barren vegetable drawer. A leek, four sad carrots, an aging bulb of fennel, a romaine lettuce. Three underripe tomatoes sat in the fruit bowl on our kitchen shelf. Slim pickings. But even if you have only one or two vegetables to hand, so long as you have some eggs and a cheese of some kind, you’ve got dinner: frittata. So out came the fennel and the underripe tomatoes. The basil that we grow on the balcony has been persistently trying to flower and go to seed for weeks, and though I eventually relented and let it go, there are still a few leaves left. I plucked some from their stems and added them to the line up. We always have parmesan in the fridge, so I cut off a small hunk of that too. In the end, what was truthfully an end-of-the-week-all-that’s-left-in-the-fridge-dinner will now become a regular in our summer rotation. We enjoyed it warm with a little dressed lettuce and some buttered new potatoes. We even had leftovers for the following day’s lunch, and I can confirm that the flavours only improved overnight.

Please make sure to use an ovenproof frying pan for this recipe!

Fennel, tomato, basil & parmesan frittata

Serves 4

1 medium onion, peeled and sliced into half moons
1 bulb of fennel, cored and sliced
3 tbsp of olive oil
3 medium tomatoes, deseeded and sliced
35 g parmesan, grated
6 medium or large eggs, beaten
salt & pepper
a handful of basil, leaves only

Add the olive oil to a 20 cm oven-proof frying pan and set over a medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and fennel with ¼-½ tsp of fine salt (depending on your taste). Fry gently until the onion and the fennel have started to brown nicely. This will likely take at least 20 minutes.

Once the onion and fennel have browned, arrange the slices of tomato over the top of them in a single layer. Sprinkle the tomatoes with a pinch of salt. Let the tomatoes cook for 2-3 minutes, then sprinkle half of the grated parmesan on top.

Beat the eggs really well with a ¼ tsp of fine salt and a generous grinding of black pepper, then pour over the onion, fennel, tomato, and parmesan. Arrange the basil leaves over the surface followed by the remaining parmesan.

Heat the grill (broiler) on a high setting. While it heats up, leave the frying pan on a medium heat. You’ll see a ring of cooked egg will form around the edge. Using a heat-proof spatula, slide it between the edge of the frittata and the pan and have a little peek at the colour. If the bottom of the frittata has started to brown, you can transfer it to the grill to finish cooking. Check after 2 minutes, it will cook very quickly under the grill. The frittata should be nicely browned on top and firm to the touch. Give it another minute if it doesn’t seem ready.

Once the frittata has nicely browned, transfer it to a plate, slice and serve. It can be eaten hot or at room temperature, and is especially good with a nicely dressed side salad and some buttered new potatoes.

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