25 January 2009

goat cheese, leek, and fennel frittata

I noticed this yummy-looking frittata recipe when planning the New Year's Eve party dish. We doubled the recipe to have some leftovers, and it went wonderfully with our potato leek soup. The fennel gives an interesting licorice-esque taste, and with leeks and goat cheese, how could it be anything other than delicious?

Leek, Fennel, and Goat Cheese Frittata

Note: Jeanne writes, "Here's a frittata that's fit for a special occasion. The creamy pockets of goat cheese along with this triumphant blending of flavors make this egg dish ideal for a no-fuss, yet memorable meal."

2 T unsalted butter
3 c thinly sliced fennel (about 1 large bulb)
2 leeks, halved lengthwise, washed thoroughly, and thinly sliced
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
8 large eggs (used half the yolks)
1/2 t salt
generous seasoning freshly ground black pepper
4 oz soft mild goat cheese, crumbled

Over medium heat, melt the butter in a 10-inch non-stick skillet, and roll it around so the butter coats the sides. Add the fennel and saute until tender, about 10 minutes.

Stir in the leek and tomato and cook, stirring often, until the leek is soft, about 10 minutes. At first the vegetables will crowd the pan, but they will shrink once cooked. You can prepare the vegetables in advance to this point, then reheat before beginning the next step.

Meanwhile beat the eggs thoroughly. Add the salt, pepper, and crumbled goat cheese and stir very gently to keep the goat cheese in separate pieces rather than completely blended into the egg mixture.

**Note: Here the recipe splits. There is the traditional way of cooking frittatas, over low or medium-low heat, using a non-stick skillet greased with butter or oil, and then finishing with the broiler. However, Jeanne also described an alternative method of baking the frittata, which sounded much more appealing to me. So here's how to bake a frittata:

Frittatas can be successfully baked rather than cooked on the stove top. This method can be a lifesaver if you are preparing a brunch, for example, where a number of dishes will be cooked on the burners. To bake this frittata, butter a 9-inch pie dish and pour in the egg mixture. Bake it in a preheated 350-degree Fahrenheit oven for 20-30 minutes, or until it is no longer runny on top. (The temperature of the added vegetable mixture affects the cooking time. If the vegetables are quite warm rather than at room temperature, the frittata won't take as long to cook.) Keep an eye on it to prevent overcooking. You don't need to broil the top of the frittata when you use the baking method.

Cut the frittata into wedges and serve immediately. Serves 4. Note: You can reheat the frittata with 1-2 minutes in the microwave, letting it rest every 30 seconds.

Recipe modified from Jeanne Lemlin (2000), Simple Vegetarian Pleasures.

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