Frittatine Trippate: When You Don’t Have Offal
Eggs and tomato are a classic, rustic combination in the cucina povera, the peasant cooking, of Tuscany. In a way, you could think of this even as a variation on the uova al pomodoro (eggs poached in tomato sauce) recipe I posted a couple of weeks ago. They’re both essential, simple, comforting dishes that are quick and thrifty to make – hallmarks of a good cucina povera dish!
The name of this dish is a little bit misleading for those who understand Italian and know that trippa means tripe. There is actually no offal or meat at all in this. Frittatine trippate are basically strips of thin egg frittata, served in a tomato sauce. The frittata, however, is not a regular frittata. It’s made into a sort of batter with the addition of egg and a little flour, the result is somewhere between a thin frittata and a thick crepe. Cut into strips and served with a quick tomato sauce, the fritattine become quite like a replacement for egg tagliatelle or other fresh pasta, only they take literally just a few minutes to make.
Although this is not a dish that you see on even the most rustic trattoria menu (it’s more likely found in a countryside kitchen), it is still cited in many cookbooks as a typical Florentine dish, perhaps because it is named after one of Florence’s most beloved dishes, Trippa alla Fiorentina – Florentine style tripe. A simple dish that the Florentines pride themselves on, the tripe is cut into thin strips and served with a rich tomato sauce and a sprinkling of Parmesan or Pecorino cheese.
Frittatine Trippate may have taken their name from Florence’s favourite dish because of the appearance and ingredients used or because during particularly rough times when even tripe was too expensive to buy, eggs and tomato were readily available items that could be provided by the backyard or farm, especially in the summer when tomatoes were abundant. In fact, you could probably be much more generous with the tomato sauce than what you see in my photographs. All that extra leftover sauce in your bowl after you’ve finished the frittatine are perfect mopped up with bread (that wonderful ritual of la scarpetta), filling up hungry bellies even more.
As with any simple dish, try to use the best ingredients you can find: fresh, organic eggs (the ones I used were from an elderly Italian lady’s backyard chickens, I have never seen brighter eggs!) and if you have it, homemade tomato conserva or passata and real Parmesan cheese. Failing that, use what you have on hand! This is one of those dishes that you should be able to whip up on a quiet night in or for a quick lunch with some kitchen staples.
For 2 serves
- 4 organic eggs
- 200 ml milk
- 80 gr flour
- 1 tin of peeled or chopped tomatoes
- 1 clove of garlic
- salt & pepper
- A handful or more of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Extra virgin olive oil
In a bowl, whisk the eggs, milk and flour to make a smooth batter. Make the frittatine more or less as you would crepes, pouring a ladle-ful of batter into a non-stick pan greased with some olive oil and on a gentle heat. You don’t want them to colour too much, just cook them on one side until the tops look dry, no need to flip them over. Transfer the crepes to a plate as you make them.
Now make a quick tomato sauce by gently heating a smashed (but otherwise whole) clove of garlic in some olive oil. After allowing the olive oil to infuse and the garlic to colour just slightly, add the tomatoes and a splash of water and let reduce a little a bit. If you’re using whole tomatoes, squash them down with the back of your spoon. Season with salt and pepper.
Going back to the frittatine, roll them up together and slice them into strips, about 1cm wide. Add them to the sauce, toss and allow to warm through. Serve immediately with some freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese.