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The low carbohydrate lifestyle has improved the health of millions of Americans, helping them to lose weight and improve their cholesterol levels without feeling deprived all of the time. But one of the things that low carb dieters do feel deprived of is that enormously popular treat, pizza. It just isn’t worth risking the weight gain or the return of cravings for a few slices on a Friday or Saturday night, when a quick and tasty dinner may be all that you’re in the mood for.

Enter the frittata, an infinitely customizable Spanish omelet. If you have the ingredients on hand, you can whip up a delicious pizza-imposter in about 20 minutes. The only equipment you need is a 10-inch non-stick frying pan and a broiler.

Ingredients
(serves two very hungry people, or four if rounded out with a salad)

Frittata base:
6 extra large eggs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

For the pan:
2 teaspoons olive oil, or non-stick spray

Toppings:
Sliced tomatoes, or about 1/2 to 3/4 cup low carb tomato sauce, or about 1/2 cup pesto sauce
(Check the labels; many tomato sauces have a lot of added sugar. The small cans of unseasoned sauce usually run about 4 grams of carbohydrates per quarter cup serving, and they work just fine here.)

low carbohydrate toppings of your choice:
pepperoni slices
sausage, cooked and crumbled
ham or Canadian bacon, cut into bite-size pieces
sliced, cooked chicken
sliced, sautéed mushrooms
peppers, sweet or hot
onions (use sparingly, they are rather high in carbs)
olives
etc

1-2 cups mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Assembly:
Beat the eggs together with the 1/4 cup Parmesan until they are well mixed.

Pour the oil into the non-stick pan, or spray with non-stick spray. Place the pan over medium heat, and pour in the egg-Parmesan mixture.

Let the egg mixture cook until it is set nearly all the way through, which may take about 7-10 minutes, depending on how hot your stove is. You want the eggs to cook but not become rubbery; you may be tempted to crank up the heat, but don’t.

When the eggs are nearly completely set (tilt the pan and see how much liquid runs off the top), you can add the toppings. Preheat your broiler while you are doing this. First arrange your tomato slices around the pan, or spoon the tomato or pesto sauce evenly over the surface. Then add your toppings, again arranging them evenly around the pan. Finally, top with as much mozzarella cheese as you like, and sprinkle the Parmesan over all.

Place the pan about 4 inches from the broiler flame (any closer and you are likely to melt the handle) until the cheese melts and browns. The time in the broiler is not enough time to actually cook any of the topping ingredients, so it is important that they are pre-cooked before you put them on the frittata. It may take a good 5-10 minutes for the cheese to melt and brown to your liking; it depends on how much cheese you use, how hot your broiler is, and how close your frittata is to the heat.

Use oven mitts to remove the frittata from the broiler. Loosen the edges with a spatula, and slide the frittata out onto a serving plate. Let cool for 5 minutes to “set” before slicing it into wedges to serve.

Variation: add herbs such as oregano or chopped basil to the egg base, if you like an herbed "crust".

As long as you avoid high carbohydrate toppings (pineapple, for example) you can enjoy a close-to-pizza experience without blowing your diet.