Is it any wonder people often resort to take-aways by default … because there are times when it can be just too bloody difficult to get dinner on the table when the rest of the day has not only been ‘busy’, but hectic and ennervating too, and though the tummy rumbles, the body is most unwilling to undertake the strenuous task of yet more thinking (menu-planning), let alone cooking.
What then, eh? What? What? What?
Eggs. Eggs can save your face.
The other night turned out to be what I call a ‘crazy dinner’ because it had no rhyme or reason to it other than I had three hungry souls looking at me imploringly and it was so late (almost 9 o’clock) that I had no choice but to get dinner on the table as quickly as possible. I had just found out, also, that we had run out of loo paper and paper napkins and white wine and that added to my annoyance and I wasn’t in the least bit happy to be cooking in a bad mood. So I asked my husband to make me a Martini. A cocktail can help make us pretend that life is running smoothly …
I often make a frittata (my children’s favourite being the one their Nonna makes with mozzarella and fried potatoes, known as chips in the UK and as French Fries the States) – but I was in such a foul mood I knew I had better ‘distract’ my temper by getting my mind thoroughly involved in something. It’s a very good zen approach, I highly recommend it. And so I made ‘uova in trippa’ for the first time — which required all my concentration, tenuous though it was by that stage.
The idea is to make a large omelette and then cut it into long, thin strips. The strips are placed in a tasty tomato sauce and then grated parmesan is generously sprinkled all over it. Served this way, the strips of omelette look amazingly similar to a dish of tripe, the kind served in Rome — hence the name of the dish: Eggs in Tripe.
Sauté some chopped onion in olive oil and add tomato sauce (passata di pomodoro), a pinch of sugar and some salt and pepper. Simmer for at least 15 minutes.
While the tomato sauce is simmering, shave plenty of parmesan cheese.
I cracked open 12 eggs (this is a big omelette but I was looking forward to leftovers the next day too).
I used olive oil. It’s not that I don’t like butter (quite the contrary) but for this dish olive oil is preferable.
In order to maintain the frittata ‘soft’, as opposed to ‘rubbery’, it is a good idea to stir the egg mix gently, not unlike making scrambled eggs. This helps the egg to cook faster and thus avoids the burnt dryness that comes with overcooking. Just don’t stir too much.
When it has cooked all around the sides and it starts to look like this … flip the frittata over, with the aid of a large plate. Remove the dish from the source of heat. Cover with a suitably sized plate. Place your hands on either side of the dish and turn it over. Put the pan back on the heat again …
It is important to realize that the omelette was nearly cooked even before it got flipped over. Therefore do not cook it a long time now. Two to three minutes is plenty. This will ensure that the frittata stays as soft as a pillow.
Transfer the frittata to a nice big plate or to a cutting board. Cut into thin strips.
I got carried away at this point … and cut the strips too, which ruined the whole look! I had frittata ‘cubes’ now instead of strips. Sigh.
Put the frittata ‘strips’ (ahem) into the pan with the now-deliciously-ready tomato sauce and stir gently and simmer for only a few minutes … we want the tomato sauce and the frittata to get well acquainted.
Put the uova in trippa in a serving dish and sprinkle lavishly with grated parmesan. I popped a sprig of mint in the middle because it’s the first herb I found on the balcony.
And here is crazy dinner: starting with Christmas-themed napkins (the only ones we could find) only a week away from Easter and cocktail sized to boot, on a tropically inclined tablecloth … random in the extreme.
Stewed capscum, red and yellow peppers, leftover from the supper before … served in a fruit bowl !
Buffalo mozzarella and tomatoes on the vine (no cooking involved here whatsoever).
Agretti or Barba di Frate (which I did cook that evening because they are my son’s favourite this time of year) … dressed with olive oil and lemon juice.
Mixed salad leaves with a hint of bacon in them … (again no cooking).
And last but not least, the New Entry and only hot dish for the evening: uova in trippa.
We drank a very nice bottle of red wine. Conversation flowed once mouths started chomping. The eggs didn’t look at all like tripe, since I had shaped them into cubes, but they tasted very nice indeed. Definitely a repeat dish this one.
It turned out we had plenty of boxes of tissues and so didn’t have to undergo the ignominy of having to use kitchen paper in the loo. All’s well that ends well.
P.S. If you prefer pecorino cheese, by all means use that instead of the parmesan.