Tonight I committed a food crime. I made a corn and tomato frittata, a dish that is undeniably a high summer meal, on October 17. Somewhere my father is cringing and for that I am truly sorry. In my defense, I had a pretty good reason for making this recipe. You see, I recently inherited three pounds of frozen corn and of all my corn recipes, this one seemed the least summery, mostly because it requires a 450 degree oven.
In the Adler household, we ate fruits and vegetables only when they were in season and corn season was one of the most highly anticipated times of year. In west central Maine, corn arrives late in the summer. The local farm in our wooded corner of the state didn’t grow corn, so we waited as the asparagus, strawberries, and peas came and went, for the corn truck to appear on the side of the road. He drove an old pick up with a makeshift wooden roof built over the bed and piles of freshly picked corn sheltered under the roof. We stood behind the truck and peeled back the husks just enough to see a few kernels, satisfied with our selection, we filled a bag with a half-dozen ears and drove eagerly back to the house. We usually ate our corn unadulterated, steamed on the cob with butter and a little salt, but every once in a while, my dad sauteed the corn. He chopped an onion, added it to a pan of melted butter, followed by diced red or orange bell pepper, corn, a touch of cream, and a chiffonade of fresh basil. I remember it so clearly and so fondly, sweet and buttery, I can almost taste it.
Dad’s recipe absolutely requires fresh corn, but tonight’s frittata works well with the frozen variety. I’ve always been fond of frittata for dinner. It was something my mom often made in Maine when she was in charge of dinner. I have a broccoli and cheddar frittata recipe that I’ve been making for Matt and I for years. It was one of the recipes I sent him off to DC with, when he summered here after his first year of law school. I remember visiting him at the group house he was living in on Yuma Street. One of the first things Matt’s housemate mentioned to me when I met her was how impressed she was with his cooking, especially the frittata. I was practically beaming with pride. So, I hope you’ll forgive me for making a frittata with frozen corn and fresh tomatoes imported from a green house somewhere. It was delicious and it made me think of happy things.
Spicy Corn Frittata with Tomatoes and Scallions from Fresh Food Fast by Peter Berley
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 large ripe tomatoes, cored, seeded, and chopped (about 2 cups)
2 large (or 3 medium) ears sweet corn, kernels scraped off the cob (about 2 cups)
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 bunch (6 to 8) scallions, trimmed and sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
Coarse sea salt or kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
8 large eggs
1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Set a rack on the top shelf of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees F.
In a large ovenproof skillet over high heat, warm 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the tomatoes and saute for 2 minutes. Add the corn, cilantro, scallions, garlic, and jalapeno and saute for 2 more minutes or until the garlic is fragrant and the mixture thickens. Transfer the vegetables to a plate and let cool for several minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
In a large bowl, season the eggs with salt and pepper. Beat them lightly with a fork, only enough to mix the whites and the yolks. Add the cooled vegetables and cold butter and stir to combine.
Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel and put it over medium heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, swirling it all around and up the sides of the pan. Add the egg and vegetable mixture and stir gently with the back of a fork without touching the bottoms and sides of the pan. Cover the pan, lower the heat, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the bottom of the frittata begins to set. Remove the cover and transfer the pan to the top shelf of the oven and bake until golden brown and puffed, about 15 minutes.
Slide the frittata onto a serving platter, cut it into wedges, and serve immediately or cool and serve at room temperature.