The first time I remember seeing a frittata on the menu in an Italian restaurant was many years ago. It was listed as an appetizer - Frittata Gamberetti. I asked the waiter what a frittata was. He said, "Oh it's like an omelet, but we don't fold it over. We just pile the shrimp on top." I had a hard time visualizing an omelet as an appetizer and opted for the old standby, Toasted Ravioli, instead.
Fast forward more than 30 years and reading Marcella's description of frittate, she also compares it to an open-faced omelet, but in a much more elegant and appetizing way. Had she been the one explaining Frittata Gamberetti to me, I might have ordered it.
So, now I find myself reporting on Frittata with Cheese. Eggs, parmigiano-reggiano, butter, salt & pepper. A few simple ingredients, one delicious result. The secret to a perfectly cooked frittata is patience. You must have the patience to wait while it cooks slowly over very low heat. If the bottom browns before the top is almost set, the heat is too high. I turned mine down so low, I could hardly see the flame at all.
The trick I use to know when it’s done is to jiggle the pan ever so slightly. If the entire frittata seems able to make ‘waves’, it isn’t done. When you jiggle the pan and only see a slight movement you’re ready to finish it under the broiler – just long enough to set the face, but not brown it.
While the frittata was cooking, it occured to me that I hadn't planned a meal around it, I was just taking advantage of a free hour in the middle of a Saturday afternoon to accomplish my assigned cooking task for the week. On a whim, I decided to turn it into an appetizer as an homage to that long-ago menu item. Instead of dumping shrimp into a pan of eggs, I decided to grilled the shrimp separately. I cut my 10" frittata into 12 equal wedges; placed one wedge on a small plate; laid two grilled shrimp along-side; & garnished with a small dab of pesto. It was quite good, and made a beautiful presentation.