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Going it alone

(article, Carrie Floyd)

One of the pleasures of working at home is making lunch for myself. More often than not, I'll heat up a bowl of soup or reheat last night's leftovers. If I have the time, however, I'd just as soon cook. Why? I can make exactly what I want to eat. And, too, I get unanimous approval for the effort that went into preparing the meal (which doesn't always happen when I cook for the whole family).

[%image reference-image float=right width=400 caption="Eggs for lunch."]

Eggs, of course, are magic. A filling protein and quick to cook, eggs inspire spontaneity and resourcefulness. At least once a week, I make myself a variation-on-egg lunch. 

Sometimes it's an egg sandwich: sharp Cheddar cheese melted on toast, topped with a fried egg (and a slice of tomato when in season), sprinkled with salt and freshly ground pepper.  

Other times I make a scramble. First, I fry a diced potato and a bit of onion in olive oil, adding whatever vegetables I have on hand — red or green peppers, various greens — and leftover cooked bacon or ham if I have it. Then once the vegetables are tender, I toss in a lightly beaten egg. To this mix I added grated cheese, then top it with salsa and plain yogurt. It's nothing you want to see a picture of, but it is delicious and satisfying. 

Frittatas are the third egg archetype I fall back on when cooking lunch for myself. I start by sautéing something in the allium family (shallot, onion, green onions), then add a big handful of a dark, leafy greens (spinach, sorrel, chard). Next I pour a beaten egg over the top, run the pan under the broiler, top the frittata with a little cheese (goat, Parmesan, what have you), and grind on a bit of pepper. Served over a piece of buttered, whole-grain toast, it makes a perfect meal for one.

Consider the following recipe a blueprint; change the ingredients according to whim and what's in season.

Frittata for One

1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
1 shallot, 1 leek, 2 to 3 green onions, or ¼ cup onion, thinly sliced
1 cup loosely packed spinach, sorrel, or Swiss chard (or a mixture of two or three)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan or crumbled goat cheese

Heat the olive oil or butter in an ovenproof nonstick skillet (with a metal handle) over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook, stirring often, until it's soft and a little brown on the edges. Add the spinach and continue to cook, stirring, until wilted and dry (you don't want the greens to be soggy).

Preheat the broiler. Season the egg with a pinch of salt and bit of black pepper, then pour it over the vegetables in the pan. Once the egg has set on the bottom and edges, place the pan under the broiler; keep an eye on it, as the top of the egg mixture will be cooked in about 30 seconds. Remove the pan from oven, cover the egg surface with cheese, and return the pan to the broiler to melt the cheese. Grind fresh black pepper over the frittata and serve with toast.

p(bio). Carrie Floyd is Culinate's recipe editor.

reference-image, l