Break the eggs into a bowl and season with salt and pepper; lightly beat with a fork.
Heat a 10-inch nonstick saute pan with 1 teaspoon unsalted butter. When butter begins to crackle pour in beaten eggs and cook for 10 seconds, just so the eggs begin to set on the bottom. Immediately scrape the sides towards the middle using a plastic utensil. Stir almost continuously until the omelet is cooked to your liking. Allow 2 minutes for a well cooked omelet. To roll the omelet, flip one half over toward the middle, while tilting the pan.
Add the filling of your choice and continue rolling omelet over itself. Roll the omelet on to a serving plate. Make a slit with a paring knife to expose some of the filling and drizzle some melted butter on top, if desired.
*Chef's Note: To serve a make-your-own omelet bar, make omelets to order and offer toppings: Spinaci alla Padella, Grilled Red Onions, Salami Bits, Caponata and a selection of cheeses.
Spinaci (Spinach) alla Padella (Frying Pan):
2 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
4 (10-ounce) bags spinach, washed, big stems removed, or 12 cups raw, roughly torn mustard greens (about 2 pounds)
About 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons thinly sliced garlic
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Bring 1 gallon of water to boil in a large pot with 2 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt. Add the spinach, pushing it down into the water with a skimmer, and immediately remove it to a bowl of ice water.
Drain the spinach once cooled (don't leave it in for too long) and squeeze out the water. Divide spinach into 4 sections and compress each into a ball (each ball will be about
1 cup and they can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to a day).
Cut each ball in half and then in half again to chop up the spinach.
Place 1/4 cup of the oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the garlic to the pan and shake the pan often, for about 1 minute or until the garlic is lightly browned. Add the spinach and saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste. It will seem dry. Remove the spinach to a bowl, sprinkle with a little olive oil and garnish with lemon wedges.
Try adding some chopped anchovy with the garlic.
For creamed spinach: substitute butter for half of the oil and add 1 cup of heavy whipping cream as you cook the spinach.
Yield: 4 servings
Grilled Red Onions:
2 red onions, peeled and sliced 1/2-inch thick
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat a grill or a grill pan.
Lightly brush the onion slices with olive oil. Place on the grill and cook about 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and chop into bite-sized pieces or serve whole.
Yield: about 3 cups
1 pound salami, very finely minced or ground with the medium blade of a meat grinder
2 tablespoons olive oil
Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Place salami in heated pan. Drizzle salami with olive oil, and cook, stirring. The salami will give off steam in about 5 minutes while it releases its moisture. When the hiss of steam turns to a sizzle, turn the heat down to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the salami bits are crisp, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bits to several thicknesses of paper towel to drain. The bits will crisp even more as they cool. Use immediately or freeze the bits for up to 6 months and warm in a skillet, as needed.
Yield: 1 pound
Caponata "Agrodolce" (Sweet and Sour):
Recipe courtesy Mariano Orlando
1 cup olive oil, for frying, plus more if needed
3 medium eggplants, cut into small dice
3 small green zucchini, quartered and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
3 small yellow squash, quartered and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
2 onions, chopped 1/4-inch pieces
6 celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch slices
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup roasted red peppers, thinly sliced
1 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1 cup capers
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano leaves
2 cups prepared marinara sauce
In a very hot pan, separately cook the vegetables over a medium-high flame with a bit of the olive oil. Cook the onions and the garlic together in the same pan in a little more oil. Set all cooked vegetables aside in a large bowl.
Make the "agrodolce": Combine vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan and reduce by half over medium-high heat for 3 to 4 minutes.
While vegetables are still warm, combine with the roasted peppers, olives, and capers. Pour the "agrodolce" vinegar over the vegetable mixture and toss to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the chopped herbs and marinara sauce and stir.
Serve the caponata at room temperature.
Yield: 10 to 12 servings