- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Asumption: An egg dish must be made just moments before serving and be eaten fresh and hot or it will be rubbery.

Fact: A frittata can be made ahead and served at room temperature and it will still be tender.

Assumption: Egg dishes are temperamental and must be fussed over. Fact: A frittata is sturdy and adaptable and can withstand a lot of handling without sacrificing quality. And there’s no need to fuss.

Assumption: Eggs are breakfast food. Fact: Frittatas are great for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Assumption: Eggs are too high in cholesterol to be eaten often. Fact: Research shows that eating cholesterol-rich food does not significantly increase blood cholesterol levels in most people.

According to Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the Harvard School of Public Health’s Department of Nutrition, “No research has ever shown that people who eat more eggs have more heart attacks than people who eat fewer.”

Cholesterol is not a fat. It is a waxy, fatlike substance produced by all animals, including humans. It is necessary for a large number of bodily functions, including insulating nerve fibers, maintaining cell walls and producing vitamin D.

There is a difference between the dietary cholesterol consumed in foods and blood cholesterol. The dietary type found in meat, poultry, seafood, eggs and dairy products, does not automatically become blood cholesterol when digested.

The majority of blood cholesterol is actually made by the body. How much cholesterol a body makes depends on diet, weight and other factors. On the plus side, eggs have a high nutrient content per calorie count, providing 20 essential nutrients.

So let’s eat frittatas for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

They’re a wonderful way to get protein and vegetables all bundled up in one scrumptious package. And they make a lovely fall supper with whole grain toast and a platter of the last available heirloom tomatoes, thickly sliced and drizzled with the finest olive oil in the room.

So let’s salute the frittata with a crisp, cold sauvignon blanc. Or, if alcohol is not on your agenda, a cold glass of water with a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a big sprig of mint will be perfect. Especially at breakfast time.

Indian summer frittata with zucchini and goat cheese

2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 small zucchini, thinly sliced

½ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons minced garlic

8 eggs

6 medium scallions, minced (whites and greens)

Minced parsley

Freshly ground black pepper

1 cup crumbled goat cheese

Place a 10-inch skillet with an ovenproof handle over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, wait about 10 seconds, then swirl to coat pan. Add zucchini and saute for about 5 minutes, or until just tender. Stir in salt and garlic, cook for about 1 minute longer and remove from heat.

Break eggs into a large bowl and beat well with a whisk. Add sauteed vegetables, scallion and a handful or two of fresh minced parsley. Grind in some black pepper, crumble in cheese and stir until blended.

Clean and dry skillet and return it to stove over medium heat. Preheat broiler. When skillet is hot again, add remaining 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil, wait about 30 seconds and swirl to coat pan.

Pour in vegetable-egg mixture and let it cook undisturbed over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes, or until eggs are set on bottom.

Transfer skillet to preheated broiler and broil for about 3 minutes, or until frittata is firm in center.

Remove pan from broiler and run a spatula around edge to loosen frittata. Slide or invert it onto a large, round plate and serve hot, warm or room temperature, cut into wedges. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

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