'Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat' cookbook inspires freestyle frittata recipe

A frittata with leeks, feta and pine nuts is flavored with fresh dill and a bit of lemon zest. (E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune/TNS)
A frittata with leeks, feta and pine nuts is flavored with fresh dill and a bit of lemon zest. (E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

“Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat” doesn’t sound especially tasty. But the cookbook is a big hit. I flipped its pages, ever eager for new recipes, and found something better: inspiration to ditch recipes and cook intuitively, using what author Samin Nosrat considers the four elements: the zing of salt, the reach of fat, the kick of acid and the alchemy of heat.

It was fun, pulling together a frittata from taste, touch, scent and sight — as well as eggs, leeks, feta and pine nuts. My well-balanced breakfast was so tasty I jotted it down — standard-recipe style — bringing the lessons of the full skillet full circle.

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FRITTATA

Prep: 30 minutes

Cook: 8 minutes

Makes: One 8-inch frittata, serves 4

2 small leeks

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds

1/2 cup finely chopped fennel, fronds, stem or bulb

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 eggs

3 tablespoons cream

1/4 cup crumbled mild feta cheese

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons pine nuts

1. Slice: Halve leeks the long way and slice crosswise into 1/4-inch thick crescents. You’ll have about 5 cups. Using a salad spinner (or a colander set inside a pot), soak in two or three changes of cool water until clean. No need to dry.

2. Soften: In a wide (10- to 12-inch) skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium-heat. Scatter on fennel seeds. Toast fragrant, a few seconds. Slide in leeks and chopped fresh fennel. Season with salt and pepper. Cover. Cook, stirring now and then, until tender, 12 to 13 minutes. Set aside to cool down.

3. Whisk: In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and cream. Stir in feta, dill and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in cooked vegetables.

4. Heat: Set broiler rack about 6 inches from heat source. Heat broiler on high.

5. Cook: Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter into an 8-inch non-stick skillet set over medium heat. Pour in egg mixture. Using a soft spatula, pull set edges toward the center a few times. Let cook undisturbed until frittata is set on the bottom and not on top, about 5 minutes.

6. Broil: Scatter nuts across the surface; press them in gently. Broil until nuts have browned and frittata puffs, about 3 minutes.

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7. Serve: Let frittata rest in the pan a few minutes. Loosen edges with a soft spatula, and slide frittata onto a cutting board. Let rest. Slice and serve warm or room temperature.

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