- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 8, 2007

I love Mother’s Day because I get a chance to relax with my daughter and also make something special for my mother. For this holiday, I like to serve brunch because it frees up the afternoon to spend time with family. If done right, it requires a minimal amount of kitchen work, yet results in a lovely, casual meal.

My sausage and vegetable frittata, a one-pan main course, fits into my Seriously Simple cooking philosophy. It is easy to prepare, intensely flavored and made with the freshest ingredients. You can actually make this a few hours ahead and serve it warm or at room temperature.

The classic Italian frittata is a flat, open-faced, round omelet that is cooked over low heat until firm and then finished in the oven. This version, which has sausages, zucchini, mushrooms and plum tomatoes tucked inside, can be decorated with dollops of sour cream and shredded basil.

Don’t worry if you have a houseful of vegetarians. Just omit the sausage and add 1/2 pound more mushrooms, a total of 4 zucchinis and 1/2 pound of fresh baby spinach leaves.

Frittatas can be served for brunch, lunch or supper. I have even cut them into small pieces and offered them warm as bite-size appetizers.

Serve this dish with roasted baby potatoes (make them ahead and reheat just before serving), a favorite coffeecake or assorted muffins. Offer flutes of sparkling wine with a hint of apricot nectar to celebrate the day.

Help is on the way: Pick up a colorful variety of sliced fruit. Think strawberries, oranges, raspberries and blueberries.

Toss into a glass bowl and add a touch of sugar and orange liquor to the fruit, stirring carefully to keep the fruit intact. Sprinkle with a tablespoon or 2 of chopped mint leaves and gently remix. Garnish with fresh mint sprigs for added color.

Sausage and vegetable frittata

2 sweet sausages (about 1/3 to½ pound)

2 hot sausages (about 1/3 to ½ pound)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 medium shallots, finely chopped

½ pound mushrooms, thinly sliced

2 small zucchini, thinly sliced

1 medium garlic clove, minced

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

12 eggs

1½ cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (about 6 ounces)

4 medium plum (Roma) tomatoes, sliced

GARNISH (OPTIONAL:

1/4 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped

In a medium skillet over medium heat, cook sausages, turning frequently. Drain on paper towels and let cool. When cooled, slice in 1/4-inch pieces and set aside.

Heat butter and olive oil in a 12-inch, nonstick skillet (for ease in inverting the frittata) with an ovenproof handle over medium-high heat. Add shallots and saute until soft but not brown, about 3 minutes.

Add mushrooms and saute for 1 to 2 minutes. Add zucchini and continue cooking for 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Arrange sausage slices around vegetables and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper.

In a medium bowl, combine eggs and remaining salt and pepper, and whisk until well blended. Stir in 11/4 cups shredded cheese.

Pour egg mixture over sausages and vegetables in skillet and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until bottom of mixture is lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

Arrange sliced tomatoes around edge of skillet. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Transfer skillet to preheated 425-degree oven and bake until frittata is puffed and brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven, using an oven mitt, and invert onto a plate. Invert again onto a serving platter, so tomato border faces up.

Or serve frittata right out of the pan. Place a large dollop of sour cream in center and garnish with fresh chopped basil, if desired. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Advance preparation: This may be prepared 2 hours in advance and kept at room temperature. Garnish just before serving.

Although it will be completely different in texture and taste, the frittata may be made 1 day ahead, refrigerated and served at room temperature.

Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking and author of 18 cookbooks. To contact her, go to www.seriouslysimple.com.

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