Thought Leader Series: Frittata, Strata, Quiche - Oh My!

Diane Balch lives in a rural horse town and is passionate about simple living and eating, as seen in her blog at SimpleLivingEating.com. Frittata, strata, quiche...you have probably seen these terms thrown around in cooking magazines, but what is...

Quiche

Diane Balch lives in a rural horse town and is passionate about simple living and eating, as seen in her blog at SimpleLivingEating.com.

Frittata, strata, quiche...you have probably seen these terms thrown around in cooking magazines, but what is the real difference between each of these egg dishes? Before we get into that, let's talk about what they have in common. Yes, they are all made with eggs, but more importantly, they are all excellent vehicles for using up leftovers and aging produce.

Frittata is the simplest of these egg meals.

Quiche

It is basically a large omelette that it is cut up and eaten by several people. A quality non-stick, oven-safe pan is key to making a good frittata because it is important to be able to remove the entire frittata from the pan all at once. A 10- to 12-inch well-seasoned cast iron pan is excellent for making frittatas.

When should you make a frittata? When it's the end of the work week and you haven't gone grocery shopping, and you only have a few pieces of wilted vegetables and a little bit of cheese and eggs in your refrigerator. Sauté up the vegetables, add the eggs and cheeses; with a loaf of bread, you have a family meal that is healthy and on the table in 20 minutes. You really don't need a recipe to make a frittata, but look at this one to learn the technique for cooking it.

Strata is a frittata with stale bread added to it.

Quiche

When should you make strata? When you have a few odds and ends of vegetables, meat, and cheese and stale bread that you don't want to throw away. Yes, you could make croutons, but how many salads do you really want to eat? Strata is a much more filling meal than a frittata, and it can feed a crowd too. You can beat up two dozens eggs or more and add vegetables, milk, cheese and bread to one or more baking pans and cook up several stratas for a group of people for brunch or dinner. Like a frittata, you don't need a recipe to make a strata, but it is a good idea to look over one in order to learn the basics of making this satisfying egg dish.

Quiche is the queen of egg meals.

Quiche

What makes a quiche so special is the custard texture and the delight most people have when biting into the flaky, buttery crust. Quiche can also be made with leftover meats, cheese and vegetables, and it freezes well - unlike a frittata and strata, which really need to be eaten the day they are made. The variety of quiche fillings and crusts are immense. You need to try several recipes to decide if you like a more custardy quiche versus an eggy one, cream instead of milk, etc. As far as the crust is concerned, it's also a matter of taste. Some people like it flaky like a pie crust, while others like it to be more cake-like in texture. If you are pressed for time, there are many companies that make pre-made quiche crusts that are pretty tasty. To get started making a quiche, here is a simple recipe that is eggier and uses a pre-made crust.

After you've experimented with making frittatas, stratas, and quiches, you will probably gravitate to one more often than the others. The key concept to take away from making these dishes is to get into the habit of using up leftovers and wilting vegetables. These dishes are really about eliminating food waste.

Remember: it is important to have good quality non-stick skillets and pans to make cooking these dishes easier. Browse our cookware selection to find the best ones that meet your needs.