Recipes for the Cooking Challenged: Kale and Cheddar Frittata

The other week I made this stir-fry with kale and lots of other stuff, which I christened “Tons of sh*t stir-fry,” and I had a bunch of kale left over so I perused the internet for something I could put it in to make food. Todd loves, LOVES, quiches for reasons I can’t understand because a quiche is basically a glorified omelet in a pie crust, so why not just make an omelet and cut out a ton of the hassle. But I found this recipe on Orangette for a kale and cheddar frittata, and I thought, okay, you cut it into pie slices like a quiche and it’s like an omelet but better because I can just mix everything together and let it sit there till it cooks and not have to bother with folding it. So: perfect. How can I screw that up? I’m making a frittata.

Well, turns out I can, indeed, screw that up. But I saved it with the help of Todd running to the grocery store at the last minute, and I can use my mistakes to create a valuable teaching moment, and it was good in the end so this post is maybe still worth reading.

The recipe calls for 5 eggs. Unlike my husband, I don’t really care for eggs. I’m kinda-sorta a vegetarian for reasons that have nothing to do with having morals, and I’m a bad vegetarian, obviously, because I made this thing with little unborn chickens. Also, when I eat a lot of eggs, they have a tendency to make me a little queasy for some reason. But whatever. The things I do for love. But I didn’t want to buy any more eggs than I absolutely had to, so I only got half a dozen. This was my first mistake.

My second mistake was, maybe, not having the right kind of kale. I don’t really think this made a difference in the end, because the frittata was still tasty and good, but I failed to notice that the recipe called for dinosaur kale, whatever that is. I ignored this because 1) I already had the kale waiting in my fridge, and 2) I’m bad at following directions. This second part will come into play again later in the post. But turns out, there’s different kinds of kale! Naturally. In retrospect, I remember there being another type of kale in the produce section, labeled “Tuscan kale.” Turns out Tuscan kale and dinosaur kale and, if you were wondering, lacinato kale are all the same thing. Cooking complaint #1: Let’s all decide on one name, people! Or else I need to carry around a food thesaurus in my purse. If there is such a thing.

But my real mistake with the kale was in totally disregarding the recipe (see: following directions), which called for 4 to 5 ounces. First of all, I do not own a food scale (or whatever the actual name for those scales is). I don’t even own a human scale because I am not a masochist. Once, I did own a human scale, and I remember trying to weigh something smaller than a human on it, and turns out that things which weigh in ounces don’t register on those kind of scales. For a smart person, I can be remarkably devoid of common sense. I think I tried to weigh myself holding whatever the thing was and then weigh myself not holding whatever the thing was and subtract to find the weight of the thing, which seemed a genius plan in my head, and plus I was using MATH, so bonus points! But since I got the cheapest scale at Target, it was just not that sensitive. Fail. Anyway, I threw it out because it was a bane on my existence, so I couldn’t try this again with the kale.

I do realize (actually, I didn’t until a friend pointed it out) that I could have weighed the kale at the grocery store, where they provide food scales for this purpose. Upon learning this, my first thought was, OH! That’s what those silver buckets hanging from the ceiling are! This is how uninformed I am about the act of buying food. But I had already bought the kale previously for that other recipe, so I would have had to sneak it back into the grocery store somehow and weigh it to find exactly how much was 4 or 5 ounces and then sneak it back out again and inevitably get busted for shoplifting kale I already owned. So that wasn’t an option.

But really I have no excuse, because I didn’t even pause to think about ounces or whatever. I had my requisite several glasses of wine, at which point the recipe just said, “SOME KALE!” And so I pulled what I had leftover out of the fridge and went, “I am using ALL OF THE KALE! COOKING FTW!!!1!

I’m thinking this ended up being more like 10 or 12 ounces.

Also, I put in extra cheese because cheese is manna from the Gods and I have no sense of restraint.

The moral of the story is: when it came time to mix the ingredients in with the 5 beaten eggs, I realized I had a problem. The ratio of eggs to not-eggs was entirely wrong. Inches of kale were rising over the top of the eggs in the bowl. I beat the sixth egg and added it. Negligible difference. Using my vast culinary knowledge, I deduced that this amount of egg would not a frittata make.

Cue sending Todd to the grocery store at 9:00 at night in a panic. Todd shouting, “What kind of eggs?!” because he also knows nothing about food, and me shouting back, “The CHICKEN kind! For the love of god man, EGGS! Just EGGS!!!” Side note: Todd’s mother raises chickens. And yet.

Anyway. Todd very heroically returned with a dozen eggs of the egg variety, and I had to add like four more to the mixture in order to achieve adequate egginess. All was well. Except I forgot to add more salt in proportion to more eggs.

Teaching moment: when you (accidentally) double the recipe, double ALL of the ingredients. Also, measurements are there for a reason. You’re welcome.

In the end, I think it turned out remarkably well, all things considered. We had to salt our slices a bit, obviously. But it was a frittata. A very thick one, but most importantly, an edible and enjoyable one. And I don’t even like eggs, so that’s saying a lot.

And so, the recipe. I’m going to post the ingredients pretty much exactly as Orangette provides them, because I have no idea how many ounces of kale or cups of cheese I ended up putting in, and you should probably do it her way anyway.

Kale and Cheddar Frittata

Modified very slightly from Orangette.

  • 3 ½ Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1 small red onion
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced (because garlic belongs in everything)
  • 4-5 oz. kale (original recipe calls for dinosaur/Tuscan/lacinato, but I used normal “curly” kale)
  • at least 5 large eggs
  • ½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese. (Add more if you like, but be cautious of overwhelming the eggs)
  • ¼ tsp. salt, plus more to taste

*Note: you need an 0ven- and broiler-safe skillet for this. I have no idea if mine technically is those things, but it has a metal handle and it’s only under the broiler for 30 to 60 seconds, so I kept a careful eye on it and it was fine. Plastic or wooden handles probably aren’t such a good idea for this unless you enjoy life on the edge.

Preheat broiler.

In a 10-or-so inch broiler-safe skillet, heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil over medium heat. When warm, add the onions and cook until soft and translucent but not brown, then add the garlic and cook until fragrant, or about 30 seconds to a minute. (You don’t want the garlic to get over-cooked because it will turn bitter.) Add the kale, another tbsp of oil, and a little salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until kale is bright green and slightly wilted. Then reduce heat to low, cover the pan, and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. This will make the kale all steamed and wilt-y. The kale should be tender but not sloppy-tender like cooked spinach. I really don’t know what this means, but here is what mine looked like afterwards, at it was fine.

Next, break the eggs into a bowl and beat them well with a fork. Add more eggs if you want a thicker frittata. (Orangette says the 5 eggs make a frittata about 1/2 inch thick–so pretty thin.) Add the kale/onion mixture, cheese, and more salt, and mix well. Add more beaten eggs if you’ve gone overboard with the other ingredients like me. You want the ingredients to be mostly submerged in the egg.

Add the remaining 1/2 tbsp of olive oil to the skillet and warm over low heat. Add the egg mixture and push around the kale to distribute it evenly, if you need to. Cook over medium-low heat (original recipe says low, but I had to up it because it was taking forever, and I researched some other Frittata recipes that call for medium heat, so I figured it was okay) until the top of the eggs is mostly set and the bottom is lightly browned (take a peek with a spatula, if it starts breaking apart before you can lift the edge up to look, stop and let it cook more).

Remove pan from the stovetop and place under broiler for 30 to 60 seconds, until the top is nicely browned (whatever that means). I think this means browned in lots of places but nowhere near burnt. Watch your frittata like a hawk while it’s under the broiler. This browning action happens fast.

And you’re done! Cut into wedges and eat it, savoring the glory of having cooked yourself something with a fancy name like “Frittata” and for using the broiler successfully for the first time ever.

On an interesting note, Todd and I ate the leftovers for lunch the next day, and it was even better than it was the night before. This is strange because I don’t think that’s supposed to happen with egg-based dishes, but whatever. Frittatas are good cold or room-temperature, but you can also reheat them in the oven at 400 degrees or, if you’re lazy and impatient like me, in the microwave on a low setting. If microwaving, be sure to cover it with something to retain moisture–I loosely covered the plate with a paper towel and cooked it for two minutes or so on 50% power, and it turned out great. I also sprinkled some extra cheese on the top after it was hot, because why not.

And that is how (not) to cook a frittata.


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