The Hand Off: Pepper and Tomato Frittata
by Sarah A. Maine
My recipe this week is Pepper and Tomato Frittata inspired by the tomatoes and leeks that formed the base of Brianna’s gluten and dairy-free Moussaka. As I mentioned in my Tuesday post I wanted to make a baked dish that went in a slightly different direction so instead of using tomato sauce for the matrix of my recipe I opted for eggs. Here in the US we have recently emerged from a major egg recall – 380 million eggs recalled by Wright County Egg Farm of Galt, Iowa.
The recent egg recall, already slipping from the public’s mind, raises a serious question: what do you do if you are, like me, a lover of eggs in all their glorious forms? My first impulse was to assume that I was safe since I don’t buy eggs from the super market. My eggs come from Knoll Krest Farm – a producer of organic, cage-free eggs in upstate New York. This assumption, based mainly on my gut instinct, is not really very sound, and could end up getting my gut into a lot of trouble. This leads to a second question that many people were raising during the recall: are organic eggs safer than factory farmed eggs?
This question does not really have a yes or no answer. In the case of this particular recall, organic eggs from small family farms were not affected. It was determined in the case of Wright County Egg Farm that the chickens had been infected through their feed, which may have been contaminated at its point of origin, or possibly somewhere along the line before it was finally fed to the chickens. Studies have shown that salmonella thrives in caged housing environments – once it shows up at a factory farm it can spread quickly throughout the facility. However, chickens raised in “free range” or “cage free” environments are still susceptible to salmonella – which can also be spread by rodents, reptiles and even farm workers. The fact is that sanitation is important in any farm environment, from the origin of production all the way up to the point of sale.
One thing that does differentiate small, organic operations from their factory farm counterparts is proximity and access that consumers have to the farmers and the farms themselves. When you shop at the farmer’s market you are buying directly from a representative of the farm. Consumers should take advantage of this by asking questions about the conditions in which the chickens are raised and how the eggs are processed. Transparency about their safety and sanitation practices is in the best interest of small farms: happy, healthy customers will be loyal customers. There are also things you can do as a consumer to ensure eggs remain safe once you get them home; buying, storage and handling guidelines can be found at the Egg Safety Center.
Frittata is an egg dish that wants to be cooked all the way through, with no runny bits remaining, so if you are feeling some residual anxiety about eating partially cooked eggs you have nothing to worry about here. It is also a dish that benefits from being cooked all the way through – a firm yet fluffy texture is desirable and makes the best back drop for any vegetables and meats that are cooked into it.
Pepper And Tomato Frittata
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 to 25 minutes
Total time: 35 to 40 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
- 8 eggs
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 yellow pepper
- 1 green pepper
- 1 leek
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 large tomato
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 handful flat leaf parsley
- Sea salt
- Fresh ground pepper
- Trim, slice and clean the leek.
- Remove the tops and seeds of the peppers and slice them into thin strips.
- Slice the tomato and chop the parsley, set these aside.
- Put the 2 Tbs of olive oil into a hot skillet. Use a pan that is oven safe – I don’t have the right kind of pan so I had to use a glass pan, it worked but it’s not ideal. When the oil is warm, add the leeks and sauté until they are tender (5 minutes).
- Add the garlic and all the peppers to the skillet and sauté for 2 minutes.
- In a bowl beat the eggs and 2 Tbs of milk.
- Pour the egg mixture into the skillet over the sautéed leeks and peppers.
- Cook on the stove-top over medium heat for 10 – 15 minutes.
- Place the slices of tomato on the top of the frittata. Move the pan into the oven and cook under the broiler on high for 10 minutes.
- Remove the frittata from the oven, sprinkle with chopped parsley.
- Serve immediately or allow the frittata to cool and refrigerate for serving later.
It may seem that I am a little late in addressing the issue of egg safety, given that the recall happened almost a month ago. However, I think that part of the job of a conscientious consumer is to keep focused on important issues of food safety and production, to not forget them when their moment in the spotlight has passed. In my kitchen it isn’t an option to just stop eating a certain item because of an outbreak of one pathogen or another. If I followed that logic I would no longer be eating spinach, tomatoes, eggs, milk and other delicious foods (see the list of FDA recent food recalls).
I prefer to identify sound alternatives and to keep learning about how to improve my buying habits and how to keep my kitchen safe. In the world of eating eggs there are still many options that are safe to cook and eat: omelets, quiches, hard boiled, well done scrambled, over hard, and of course… frittata!