In early 2008, I spent a semester abroad in Florence, Italy. I had never left North America, and there I was, living with 6 other girls in a real Italian apartment on Via della Scala. We had a tiny, European kitchen with a tiny, European refrigerator. We shopped at the corner grocery or the Mercato Centrale, an indoor farmer’s market of sorts, buying only as much as we could carry. We lit our stove with a a match. I bought a lot of leather accessories. I stayed in hostels. I also took my very first cooking class. Each Wednesday, we prepared a 3-course meal (plus wine, certo). For a cash-strapped student, this was one of the best meals I would eat all week. I still credit the class for my decision to attend culinary school 4 years later.
In Florence, I learned about Tuscan cucina povera cuisine – literally translated as ‘poor kitchen’. Tuscan cooks are like alchemists, transforming kitchen odds and ends into something delicious. Classics like pappa al pomodoro, ribolitta and crostini toscani are all based on what would otherwise be trash (stale bread, random bits of vegetables, livers).
A fritatta is a humble dish, an amped-up omelet with no right or wrong way about it. This is a version I dreamed up in a mad dash to clean out my fridge before the storm.
Purple Potato and Kale Fritatta
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
2 cups Tuscan/Lacinato kale (cavolo nero), thick stems removed, thinly sliced
2 small purple potatoes, diced into 1/2″ pieces
1 tsp. fresh oregano, minced
Pinch Spanish smoked paprika (‘pimenton’)
4 eggs, preferably organic
Freshly grated Parmesan, manchego or pecorino cheese
Salt, pepper and olive oil
Preheat oven to 375F.
Place potatoes in a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until potatoes are fork-tender. Drain and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, in an 8″ oven-proof skillet or cast-iron pan, heat a couple teaspoons of olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the shallot and a pinch of salt and sweat for a few minutes. Add the kale and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes. Add the smoked paprika and oregano. Transfer kale mixture to a bowl.
In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs. Add cooled kale mixture and potatoes. Season with a bit more salt and pepper. Heat a bit more olive oil in the same 8″ skillet you used for the kale. Add the egg mixture. Using a heat-proof spatula, nudge the egg mixture toward the center, tipping the pan slightly (like you would an omelet). When fritatta is set around the edges, transfer to heated oven. Bake until egg mixture is cooked in the center, about 8 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle on grated cheese. Turn your oven to broil (or place in your broiler…that’s the drawer underneath your oven where you may keep pots and pans, for those with old-school stoves). Broil until just browned. Slide fritatta onto cutting board before slicing into wedges.