Marybeth at Confessions of a Fat Loser mentioned that her breakfasts had been getting pretty standardized, so I thought I'd drop a suggestion in her combox: a technique for making very-veggie omelettes. And then I thought, why not share?
Most American restaurant omelettes are "French-style" omelettes. They are made by beating eggs with a bit of water and then cooking them in an omelette pan, gently lifting the cooked egg to allow uncooked mixture to flow underneath until it is all nearly set; then the filling is placed on top and the egg is folded over the filling to enclose it. The result is a neat yellow package that's very attractive on a plate and pleasant to eat.
The only problem with this style of omelette is that you need a fairly high ratio of egg to filling. It takes two or three eggs to produce an omelette large and sturdy enough to wrap around a hearty serving of vegetables (half a cup or more). How can we, with only one egg, (remember: "One egg is enough eggs for breakfast") make a classic omelette that is still able to hold all those veggies together?
The answer is to hop from France to Spain for your omelette inspiration. The classic Spanish omelette is called the tortilla. It almost always contains finely diced potatoes and onions, but I like to adapt it using almost any sort of vegetables I have in the house. This is the perfect omelette to make if you have lots of leftover cooked vegetables from last night's dinner. What's more, you can bind a cup or more of chopped vegetables with a single egg. I like this with onions, peppers, and spinach, but you can use just about any vegetable as long as it's cut or grated in small enough pieces to become tender in a sauté pan: carrots, broccoli, potatoes, you name it. Peas and feta are shockingly good. Thawed frozen vegetables work too. Whatever you do, be sure to include some onion and cook it in olive oil.
Here's a basic recipe. Substitute other vegetables or use less or more as you like; I personally like this with about double the vegetables. Almost any combination will work, as long as the vegetables are in quite small pieces and are tender by the time the egg is added.
- 1/4 cup finely diced onion
- 1/4 cup finely diced red bell pepper
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh spinach
- 2 Tbsp finely diced raw potato (optional)
- At least 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 egg
- 2 Tbsp any cheese, shredded or crumbled (optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat a nonstick pan over medium heat with half the olive oil. Add onion (and potato, if using) and saute, stirring, until the onion is soft and the potato is tender. Add the peppers and spinach and saute until everything is soft. Salt and pepper to taste.
Meanwhile, beat the egg well in a medium bowl with a fork.
Stir the hot vegetable mixture directly into the bowl of beaten egg and mix well with a fork. Add more salt and pepper. Return the pan to medium-high heat and add the rest of the olive oil, then pour the egg mixture in. You may need to press it down a little bit with a spatula in the first few seconds of cooking to spread it out in the pan. Allow it to cook undisturbed until the bottom is well set and a bit browned; then slide it out onto a plate, cooked side down, and invert the plate over the pan to turn the omelette raw side down into the pan. Top with cheese, if using. Cook until set through, and then slide the omelette onto a clean plate. If you like, cool to room temperature, cut into wedges, and eat with your fingers... or eat it hot and crispy, right away.
Try it with whatever vegetables are in your fridge for breakfast tomorrow morning.
UPDATE: Christina in the comments reminds me of frittatas, which are of course similar, but larger, and finished under a broiler instead of being flipped. The Persian culture has produced something similar called a "kuku," which rather than frittatae is my go-to omelette-for-a-crowd. I usually bake mine in a well-oiled glass dish, but this recipe with beautiful pictures shows a stovetop skillet method. Cutting the omelette before flipping -- of course, why didn't I think of that?