Packing a Picnic …

I used to think frittatas were a utilitarian way to use up expiring ingredients; a dish that got the job done, but didn’t inspire much excitement.

It wasn’t until Christopher and I stayed at Locanda Rosati in Italy’s Umbria region that I had any notion frittatas could be darn near transcendent. One night, the Rosati brothers brought out several of these Zucchini Frittatas–served at room temperature–for the big farm table full of guests and I thought, “oh great, a frittata.” Boy did my tune change when I took a bite. It was luscious and creamy and full of flavors that spanned the spectrum from rich to fresh. (side note … strange that my food epiphanies tend to happen around eggs)

Quite frankly, I refused to believe it was a frittata. I tried to pry the recipe from the brothers for days, but they insisted the dish wasn’t worthy … it was “just a few eggs, and some zucchini from the garden,” and something called prezzemolo (that one took a while without a dictionary … it means, wait for it, ‘parsley’).

But I persisted, and managed to piece together a recipe based on a series of conversations more than anything else. Over breakfast, Giampiero leaned over with wrinkled brow and insisted that both the vegetables and the eggs needed to be coddled over very low heat. In the hallway, Paolo stopped me to say that I should salt both the vegetables and the eggs. In the end, I was able to capture the secret for replicating that divine dish called a frittata in my own kitchen.

I’m so glad I did. Since then, it’s become a summer staple both as a simple dinner and a go-to picnic dish. In fact, as soon as I finish typing I’m going to make one to take to Preston tomorrow. I’ll tuck it away in the cooler and pull it out along with the cheese to warm up a bit before serving. Then I’ll pair it with a hunk of really good whole grain bread and mixed greens tossed with my Go-To Vinaigrette. Simply divine.

I may have started out my life thinking frittatas were no more than a vehicle for emptying out the fridge. But I’ve learned … and now I know there’s nothing better to pack for a picnic.

Zucchini Frittata

By the luscious, creamy texture and complex flavor of this zucchini frittata, you’d never guess it was barely more than squash, onion and eggs. Choose the freshest eggs you can find for this since they play such a prominent role. We like to pack this frittata for picnics with a fluffy bibb lettuce and herb salad and my Go-To Vinaigrette.