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Roasted Sweet Potato and Red Pepper Frittata is a meatless dish that can by served any time of day. Photo by Sue Doeden

Fluffy, fabulous frittata can be served any time of day

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One morning I was sitting in a small café having breakfast, taking notes on the unique combination of ingredients in the scrambled eggs I was eating.

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The next afternoon I was sitting in a movie theater watching Harrison Ford playing the part of a grizzly, grumpy, serious journalist-turned-begrudging-morning news anchor, Mike Pomeroy, in the movie "Morning Glory." The dour anchor who refuses to utter the word "fluffy" on the morning program, eventually softens, swallows his pride, dons an apron and prepares a mean and "fluffy" frittata on the air.

The next day I was in my kitchen roasting a pan of tiny chunks of sweet potatoes, sweet red bell peppers and onions. Those scrambled eggs dotted with bits of sweet roasted vegetables that I savored at Bon Vie in St. Paul would take on a new Italian-style look in my own kitchen. A fluffy frittata was in order.

As I prepared to make my frittata, I had visions of Harrison Ford in the movie as he said, "The secret to a good frittata is in anything that happens to be in the refrigerator can be used, but you have to have a really hot pan to start with."

Roasting the vegetables before stirring them into the whipped eggs develops a nutty depth of flavor that just can't be accomplished with a sauté. To save time, the vegetable mixture can be roasted the day before making the frittata and stored, covered, in the refrigerator.

When you're ready to cook up the frittata, pull out your heaviest, oven-safe skillet. Cast iron works great, but any pan will work. Beat up the eggs, add the cheese and then heat up the pan. Get it hot. Then add a little olive oil and pour in the egg and vegetable mixture. In very little time, with just a little nudging of the eggs to get them cooked, the pan will be ready to get sprinkled with a tossing of grated cheese. Slide the pan under the broiler for a flash of high heat and pull out a puffed and golden frittata.

You will be amazed at how perfectly natural the flavor of the sweet and creamy potatoes meld with the fluffy eggs. It's reason to pick up an extra sweet potato or two next time you're out shopping. Just the slightest bit of savory seasoning comes as a pinch of dried thyme. The bottom of the frittata will be brown, looking as if the eggs have been baked in a crust.

Roasted Sweet Potato and Red Pepper Frittata is a meatless dish that can by served any time of day. It makes an easy and convenient breakfast or brunch dish to serve house guests over the holidays. Served with warm muffins and fresh fruit, it offers a beautiful and satisfying start to the day. This versatile frittata can become part of a rustic, yet elegant dinner, starting with a cup of hot, creamy squash soup, and teamed up with a fresh green salad drizzled with cranberry vinaigrette.

Fluffy Roasted Sweet Potato and Red Pepper Frittata will be a handy dish to have in your holiday repertoire.

Roasted Sweet Potato and Red Pepper Frittata

1/2 pound sweet potatoes (red variety), peeled, cut into small bite-size cubes

1 sweet red bell pepper, seeds removed, cut into small bite-size cubes

1/2 of a small onion, chopped (1/4 cup)

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil, divided

6 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 cup grated Gruyere or Swiss cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, toss sweet potatoes, red bell pepper, onion and thyme with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Transfer vegetables to foil-lined jelly-roll pan that has been lightly coated with non-stick vegetable spray.

Roast vegetables in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Stir and roast for another 10 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are tender when poked with a fork. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Whisk eggs with salt and pepper until light. Add roasted vegetables and 1/2 cup Gruyere cheese.

Heat a large (10-inch) oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil. When oil is hot, pour egg and vegetable mixture into the pan. Partially cover the pan and cook for approximately 8 minutes. During the 8 minutes, occasionally lift the edges of the frittata and tilt the pan, allowing the uncooked egg to flow underneath.

When the top of the frittata is still slightly moist, sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup Gruyere cheese. Place the pan on oven rack in middle of oven under broiler that's been preheating. Close oven door and watch the frittata. It takes only a few minutes for the cheese to melt and the frittata to become golden and puffed. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Tips from the cook

--Using a smaller pan will result in a thicker frittata which will take slightly longer to cook. I wouldn't use anything larger than a 10-inch pan, though.

--An Italian seasoning blend is a nice replacement for the thyme.

--For a festive red and green holiday look, sprinkle the frittata with finely chopped parsley or chives before serving.

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