The temperature is dropping, garden leaves have fallen and the days are sadly getting shorter. But my vegetable garden still grows a great winter crop!
One of our favorite winter vegetables is kale - black Tuscan kale - Cavolo Nero. With its typical long, dark green, almost black leaves, cavolo nero was first believed to be grown in Tuscany in 600BC. It has a delicious and rich taste, intense with a slight sweet flavor and can be used in a wide variety of dishes, from appetizers, side dishes and soups to main meals. It can be cooked in a number of different ways. It is great in a hearty soup, but is also delicious in lighter dishes such as salads.
On weekday winter mornings; we love to make a green shake with kale blended with other greens, vegetables (cucumber, lettuce) and fruits (kiwi).
Weekend winter brunch is the perfect time to make our fresh and healthy kale frittata. It is not only a nutritious breakfast casserole but also delicious and adaptable: you can substitute almost any combination of herbs or vegetables depending on the season’s produce - and it still turns out great!
Tips for the perfect frittata:
Prepare the Right Pan
Use an oven-safe pan that is the right size. Be aware of how well it conducts heat. A heavy pan like a cast-iron will continue to cook your frittata after you remove it from the oven (unlike a nonstick pan). A 10–12 egg frittata should be cooked in a 24-26cm (9-10 inch) pan. For a smaller frittata, use a smaller pan. If you do not use a smaller one, be aware that the frittata will be thinner; it will cook quicker and will be more like an omelet.
Prepare your pan prior to mixing your ingredients. Use enough fat for greasing the pan. This is especially important when you are not using a nonstick pan.
Preheat your Oven
Make sure that the broiler has had time to heat up before placing the frittata in the oven. The powerful blast of heat causes the eggs to puff like a soufflé.
For a fluffy and moist frittata
Beat the egg mixture just before cooking and immediately put it on the gas top.
The frittata can be made a half-hour before serving. Whether hot, warm or at room temperature, it is delicious!
• 3 tbsp. olive oil
• 1 large white onion, sliced
• 400 gram kale, trimmed and coarsely chopped
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 cups sliced sweet potatoes
• 12 whole eggs
• ½ cup half and half
• ½ cup grated pecorino cheese
• ½ teaspoon salt
• Fresh black pepper
• Olive oil for pan greasing
1. Heat oven to 200°c (390°F)
2. Grease a 24-26cm (9-10 inch) ovenproof nonstick or cast-iron pan.
3. Scrub the sweet potatoes well and pat them dry with a dishtowel. Place each potato on a foil square and make sure the foil is well sealed.
4. Place the foil-sealed sweet potatoes on a baking sheet and put them into the oven to roast for about 30-40 minutes. Check them by inserting a sharp knife into the center. They should feel semi-soft, but still firm and the knife should easily glide all the way through.
5. Remove sweet potatoes, set aside and peel them once they are cool enough to handle. Cut into 1 cm (½ inches) rounds.
6. Heat 2 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat in a wide pan.
7. Add the sliced onion and sauté for 10 minutes.
8. Add the kale, garlic and season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
9. Sauté until kale is wilted, about 8 minutes. Stir to prevent the kale from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
10. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, half-and-half and pecorino cheese.
11. Add the kale to the beaten eggs and cheese, adjust seasoning and transfer to the greased pan.
12. Arrange the sliced sweet potatoes on top. Press them lightly with fingertips but keep them from popping off the frittata.
13. Cook egg mixture over medium-low heat for few minutes, until the bottom is set and the surface is still moist and not quite set. Do not stir the eggs in the pan while the frittata is cooking on the stove. The frittata is ready to go under the oven broiler when its’ bottom is set and its’ top is moist but not quite set (yet not runny).
14. Place the pan on the upper shelf of the oven and bake for 15- 20 minutes or until the eggs are cooked through. Placing the frittata on the upper rack prevents overcooking the bottom. You can test by inserting a toothpick in the center of the frittata, which should come out clean.
15. Once the frittata is ready, run a knife around the edge of the skillet. Gently slide the frittata onto a carving board, serving plate or serve in the pan.
16. Serve with a hearty bread and a sliced heirloom tomato and enjoy a taste of Tuscany!