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Breakfast for Dinner

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With many children returning to school over the next couple of weeks, it can suddenly seem as if the routine of family life has changed dramatically. Suddenly, parents everywhere who've spent the summer throwing dinner on the grill or preparing light meals or, heaven forbid, treating the children to a fast-food meal, feel the weighty responsibility of putting a real dinner on the table that will nourish their offspring for the busy day of learning to follow.

Children, of course, too often greet our dedicated dinner efforts with looks of distaste or worse, and the immortal words, "What's that?" Even I, whom many grownups consider a pretty good cook, have received such reactions from my own dear sons.

But I know at least one smart and unusual solution to the ever-present challenge of serving your family something delicious and different for a school night meal: Give them breakfast for dinner.

That means eggs. Of course, I don't mean scrambled eggs, poached, sunny-side-up, or over easy, though they'd be perfectly fine for a quick, easy dinner.

Most people want a little something more substantial in the evening, however. An omelet with a robust filling would be good, but familiar omelets are usually made one at a time for each person, which is too much repetitive cooking to go through for a family of four.

A perfect omelet to make for a family dinner is a frittata, the Italian-style flat omelet. It's incredibly fuss-free, since you can make enough for four people in a single skillet, there's no flipping of the wrist to fold the omelet over the filling, and most of the cooking takes place in the oven, without any direct involvement on the cook's part. And, especially if you use a nonstick skillet, the frittata comes out perfectly, ready to cut into wedges and serve straight from the oven. Add some crusty bread and a simple side salad, and you have a complete, easy meal.

But the frittata's convenience doesn't end there. Once you've mastered the simple technique in the recipe I share here, you can start making up your own variations. Try substituting or adding different favorite seasonal vegetables you like. Use other shredded, grated, or crumbled cheese along with or instead of the Parmesan. By all means feel free to include chopped or julienned cooked meat in the mixture such as crispy bacon, smoky ham, spicy sausage, plump little bay shrimp, or shredded rotisserie chicken.

And you don't even have to serve the frittata hot from the oven if you're not sure when everyone will be ready to gather around the table. It's also delicious lukewarm, or even cold, which makes this a perfect main dish for those last lingering hot days of summer.

POTATO-AND-ONION FRITTATA WITH YOGURT AND PARMESAN

Serves 4

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for garnish

1 medium-sized gold-fleshed organic potato such as Yukon gold, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice

1 medium-sized yellow onion, thinly sliced

1/2 organic green bell pepper, halved, stemmed, deveined, seeded, and thinly sliced

1 teaspoon minced garlic

7 large cage-free eggs

1/3 cup plain organic yogurt

1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus a few Parmesan shavings for garnish

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

In an 8-inch ovenproof nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat until it is hot enough to swirl freely. Add the potato, onion, and bell pepper. Saute, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened and begun to turn a light golden color, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, remove the skillet from the heat, and set aside.

Put the eggs, yogurt, Parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the stainless-steel blade. Process until smooth, stopping once or twice to scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula. (Alternatively, combine the ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir together thoroughly with a wire whisk.)

Spread the vegetables evenly in the skillet and pour the egg-yogurt mixture evenly over them. Transfer the skillet to the preheated oven and cook just until the eggs are set, 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove the skillet from the oven and set it aside to let the frittata settle for about 5 minutes. Then, carefully invert a serving platter over the skillet and, using potholder to hold the platter and skillet securely together, invert them and lift away the skillet to unmold the frittata. Cut into wedges, drizzle lightly with olive oil, garnish with Parmesan shavings, and serve hot, lukewarm, or even cold.

(c) 2009 WOLFGANG PUCK WORLDWIDE, INC.

DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.

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