If you want to eat well, you’ve got to break a few eggs

For a while there, eggs were miscast as a nutritional villain, bad for the heart, too fatty, all-around not good.

The more recent truth is, eggs aren’t that bad at all. They do come with a lot of cholesterol, but because their fats are unsaturated, they have little to no effect on blood cholesterol. So that means, if you have high cholesterol, it’s much worse for you to eat foods with saturated and trans fats than it is to eat the small and humble egg.

I love eggs. I love the way they taste and I love that they’re so quick and easy to prepare.

Lately, my husband and I have been boiling up a few just to have around for a snack or for chopping up in a salad. I love them in combination with thinly sliced red onion and pickled beets.

I also frequently turn them into a frittata – basically an omlet that starts on the top of the stove and finishes in the oven. They’re great for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and they make fine leftovers. Just throw a slice into the microwave and it tastes as good as it did the day you made it, but without all that chopping.

Frittatas are a great way to use up all those bits and pieces that have collected in your refrigerator. Even fresh vegetables that have seen better days come back to life in an eggy, cheesy frittata.

The other day, I had a wrinkly red pepper, a bunch of asparagus with nasty tips, a couple of tablespoons of goat cheese, a handful of shredded cheddar and some leftover shrimp from a picnic the day before. Some judicious chopping and six eggs later, a frittata – and a delicious one – was born. I added a little hot sauce to mine. Eggs love hot sauce. I also like them with ketchup.

Another benefit of making frittatas is that it can help loosen you up as a cook. You can’t really make a bad one, and once you get comfortable improvising with frittatas, that can carry over into other things you make, and really can help you become a more comfortable and confident cook.

Here’s a basic frittata recipe:

Tomato, Scallion and Cheddar Frittata

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 bunch of scallions, thinly sliced (or some combination of a couple of leftover scallions, shriveled shallots or onion that you find in your refrigerator to equal about 1 cup)

2 cups grape tomatoes (or a few wrinkly leftover grape tomatoes, some leftover broccoli and a couple of handfuls of wilting baby spinach to equal 2 cups)

Salt and pepper to taste

8 large eggs, lightly beaten (But six will work just fine, and you don’t have to beat them. British chef Jamie Oliver cracks the eggs right into the pan, breaks the yolks and just stirs them around a bit to get a white and yellow marbled look)

½ cup cheddar (or whatever cheese you have)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a 10- or 12-inch ovenproof skillet, heat oil over medium-high. (I use my cast iron frying pan.) Add scallions and tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.

Add eggs and cheddar, season with salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Cook, undisturbed, until edges are set, about 2 minutes. Transfer skillet to oven and bake until top of frittata is just set, 10-13 minutes. Invert or slide frittata onto a plate and cut into six wedges. (Four wedges if you used six eggs.) Serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food magazine.

Here are some other combinations that I like:

Bacon, potato, cheddar – Start by frying some chopped bacon in the pan. Remove the bacon bits and remove some of the fat if it looks like too much. Then cook some potatoes, onions and peppers in the bacon fat until the potatoes are tender. Add your eggs and cheddar and move it to the oven.

Spinach, feta cheese, mushrooms – I always seem to have some leftover feta cheese and baby spinach kicking around in the refrigerator.

Broccoli rabe, ricotta, kalamata olives, mozzarella cheese – This is especially good when you have leftover broccoli rabe already cooked, and even more delicious with some spaghetti sauce spooned on top. Yum!

Jill Blanchette works at night at The Day. Share comments or recipes with her at j.blanchette@theday.com.

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