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How to Make a Frittata Full of Fennel and Zucchini The Yum Way

I love a good frittata but, for some reason, I never make them. There are only so many meals in a day and when you cook for a living, you are always making something new and that can mean that tried and true old favourites are forgotten until you are forced to make one and then you remember how much you miss them.

My friend's husband asked me to help him with food for a surprise birthday brunch for his wife, who loves Italian food so I offered to make a frittata, as well as this delicious breakfast french toast casserole:

Caramelized Pear Croissant French Toast

If you have never had one of these beauties, think of it as a cross between a crustless quiche and a baked omelette. You can follow these directions and substitute the fennel and zucchini with other vegetables (clearly it will no longer be a fennel frittata) if you prefer and you can also change the cheese from sharp cheddar to another good melty cheese that have on hand but just keep the ratios of eggs to dairy and the amount of cheese the same. Feel free to use leftover grilled or roasted vegetables - about a cup of each and stick to two vegetables - you don't want so much filler that the egg doesn't set properly and hold itself together.

Fennel Zucchini Frittata 

serves 6

1/2 head of fennel, sliced, approx 1 cup
1/2 large zucchini, halved and sliced 1/2" slices, approx 1 cup
1 leek, washed and sliced thinly
4 or 5 cloves of garlic, whole if roasting with the veg, thinly sliced if you are not
1 tbls olive oil
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup grated sharp, old cheddar
8 large eggs
1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup parmesan
handful basil, julienned
Kosher salt and pepper
a handful of chives

Preheat the oven to 400F:

I roasted the fennel and zucchini off ahead of time but you can also just cook them in the skillet if you don't want to do that and I will give directions for both methods. The roasting gives another layer of flavour so if you do have the time, do try roasting them in advance or you can even use a cup or two of leftover roasted vegetables you want to use instead.

If you are pre-cooking the vegetables:

Toss the the fennel, zucchini and whole garlic cloves in a drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of a kosher salt and lay out on a parchment lined baking pan and roast for about 30 minutes in the preheated 400F oven, until soft and nicely browned.

Heat oil in a 12" skillet or oven proof frying pan (I like to use my large cast iron skillet) over medium heat and sauté the leek for a few minutes until soft and then add in the tomatoes, fennel and zucchini with the garlic, season with another pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper.

If you are going to cook the fennel and zucchini in the skillet:
Heat oil in a 12" skillet or oven proof frying pan (I like to use my large cast iron skillet) over medium heat and sauté the leek for a few minutes until soft and then add in the fennel and zucchini with the garlic and cook until softened and any water they have released has evaporated, another few minutes. Throw in the tomatoes and season with a pinch of kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper

Okay, from here on out the recipe is the same:
Spread the vegetables out evenly in the pan, cover with the cheese and then when it starts to melt, whisk the eggs, milk, parmesan, basil and another pinch of kosher salt briefly before pouring over the vegetables and cheese in the pan. You don't to over whisk the eggs so just long enough that the eggs yolks are broken and streaky.

Tilt the pan a bit to make sure that the egg mixture is evenly distributed and when you see that the sides of the egg are starting to set, lay some chives over the top to make it look pretty and pop the whole pan into the oven and bake until the eggs are just set which should take about 10 minutes but start checking it after 8 and sometimes it can take as much as 12. Wiggle the pan and if there are liquidy, wet puddles in there, keep cooking for another minute or two.

When it's done, turn on the broiler and leave it under the broiler for a minute so that the top can get nice and brown.

Let it sit for five minutes before cutting and serving but it's also just as delicious served at room temperature. Leftovers make amazing sandwiches too.

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