I've always been grateful to Marcella Hazan for helping me transcend my egg-cooking anxieties.
Years before, I'd learned to toss a spring of parsley into a pan of sunny-side eggs, providing a crisp and buttery green garnish, but that never seemed quite enough. I still worried about breaking the yolks when making fried eggs, overcooking scrambled eggs, wrecking omelets, under or over- cooking soft-boiled eggs—the list was endless.
The frittata recipes in Classic Italian Cookery, that first Marcella Hazan cookbook, solved all these problems by providing a peril-free egg dish. Frittatas involve no tricks or flippings, are forgiving about over and under cooking and are often even more delicious at room temperature, assuaging all potential timing concerns. They are easily cooked in advance.
I make all kinds of frittatas--with onions, tomatoes, cheese, spaghetti--but this onion and zucchini version is my long-time favorite. You can alter the amount of ingredients, and the size of the frying pan (to vary the thickness). If I’m serving a crowd, I'll make two different kinds, but rarely omit this zucchini variation.
Cook one cup very thinly sliced yellow onions as long as you have time for in a covered pan.
When the onion is wilted, uncover and cook until it turns golden brown--this takes much longer than you might imagine, but you don't have to stir endlessly and can busy yourself with other breakfast chores. And, of course, you can get away with un-caramelized onions as well.
Add three medium zucchini, sliced in rounds with about 1/2 teaspoon salt. (You can remove the onions from the pan and let them drain while the zucchini is cooking--but this is certainly not necessary). I like the zucchini nicely browned on both sides. Drain the onion and zucchini to get rid of excess oil.
While the vegetables are draining, beat four eggs in a bowl. Add 2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese to the eggs, and then with a slotted spoon add the zucchini and onions. When well mixed, add about six fresh basil leaves roughly chopped (if you don't have basil, you can use a tablespoon or two of freshly chopped parsley), salt and a few twists of pepper.
Melt three tablespoons butter in a 10-inch skillet. When the butter begins to foam, add the mixture to the skillet. Turn the heat as low as possible and cook for ten to fifteen minutes--keep checking to make sure the flame is not to high -when the bottom is very slightly browned--and it is almost all cooked except for the top which should be a bit runny--stick it under the broiler for about 20-40 seconds. Let cool at least ten minutes before eating. It’s delicious completely cooled—so can be made in advance.