Simplest Omelet

MAKES: 2 servings

TIME: 15 minutes

Omelets are, of course, great breakfast and brunch dishes, but they are also fine at dinner. This recipe is for a really basic omelet, but it can be filled with almost anything. The variations range from classic (and usually simple), to a bit more complex; some are practically all-in-one meals.

See “10 Ideas for Filling Omelets”.

4 or 5 eggs

2 tablespoons milk or cream (optional)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon butter or extra virgin olive oil

Beat the eggs, milk if you’re using it, and some salt and pepper together in a bowl. Have a clean plate ready near the stove.

Put a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and wait a minute. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter; when it melts, swirl it around the pan until its foam subsides, then pour in the egg mixture. Cook, undisturbed, for about 30 seconds, then use a rubber spatula to push the edges of the eggs toward the center. As you do this, tip the pan to allow the uncooked eggs in the center to reach the perimeter.

Continue this process until the omelet is mostly cooked but still quite runny in the center, a total of about 3 minutes (you can cook until the center firms up if you prefer).

Hold the pan at a 45-degree angle so that half of the omelet slides onto the plate, then gently increase the angle of the pan over the plate, allowing the omelet in the pan to fold over onto the first half. Alternatively, you can fold the omelet into thirds (like a letter) using a large spatula, and then slide it out of the pan.

Rub the top of the omelet with the remaining teaspoon of butter and serve.

Variations

Cheese Omelet. Use any grated, crumbled, or soft cheese: Add 1/2 to 3/4 cup cheese to the eggs in a line along the axis on which you will fold or roll about a minute before finishing the omelet.

Spanish Omelet. A classic combination of onions and tomatoes: Before cooking the omelet, cook 2 tablespoons chopped scallion or onion in 1 tablespoon butter in a small saucepan over medium heat for 30 seconds. Stir in 1 cup chopped tomato, cook for about 2 minutes, season with salt and pepper, and keep warm. Add the tomato mixture, with a sprinkling of smoked paprika if you like, to the eggs as in the preceding variation.

Mashed Potato Omelet. A great way to use leftover mashed potatoes or mashed sweet potatoes, celery root, parsnips, or other vegetables: Add about 3/4 cup, heated and thinned a bit with milk or cream if necessary, and some grated cheese if you like. Add to the eggs as in the first variation.

Cheese and Apple Omelet. This omelet can be savory (with the blue cheese) or sweet omit the blue cheese and add a bit of sugar and cinnamon to the apples: Add 3 tablespoons cream cheese, cut or pulled into pieces, 3 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese (optional), and 1/2 Granny Smith apple, cored and chopped. Cook the apple in some butter or olive oil if you like or leave it raw for more crunch. Add the cheese(s) and apple to the eggs as in the first variation.

Fresh Cheese and Spinach Omelet, Indian Style. Make the cheese called paneer in India yourself for a really special omelet; but the omelet is still fabulous even without it: Heat 1/4 cup yogurt over medium-low heat and add 1 cup fresh spinach leaves, 1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper; cook until the spinach is wilted. Add 1/4 cup Fresh Cheese, the Easy Way, cut into small cubes, and the yogurt mixture to the eggs as in the first variation.

10 Ideas for Filling Omelets

You can fill an omelet with just about anything, just as you would a crГЄpe or a dumpling. Here are two lists, the first for more traditional fillings, the second for more substantial fillings, those that will make your omelet a centerpiece.

Cooked fillings, such as vegetables or grains, should be warm; raw fillings, such as cheese, should be finely grated so they melt or at least heat up quickly. Mix and match any of the fillings, but keep the quantity to about 1 cup.

Classic omelet fillings:

  1. Grated cheese virtually any kind. Figure about 2 tablespoons per egg.
  2. Chopped fresh herbs, 1 teaspoon (stronger herbs like oregano, tarragon, or thyme) to 1 tablespoon (milder ones like parsley, chive, chervil, basil, or mint).
  3. Cored, peeled, seeded, and diced tomato, drained of excess moisture if necessary.
  4. Sauted mushrooms, onions, spinach, or other cooked vegetables, cut into small dice, about 1/2 cup.

Omelet fillings that make a meal:

  1. Refried beans, or any beans, mashed, pured, or not, with cheese (served with salsa).
  2. Cooked grains, bulgur, quinoa, barley, kasha, wheat berries, or farro, with cooked mushrooms, and 2 or 3 slices soft cheese (like Brie or even cream cheese) or any cheese.
  3. Cooked asparagus and/or Roasted Red Peppers with goat cheese.
  4. Ricotta cheese mixed with Traditional Pesto.
  5. Cooked spinach or other greens, like kale, chard, or collards (squeezed of excess water), with diced smoked tofu.
  6. Roasted corn sauted with scallion or sliced onion and fresh chiles, with crumbled queso fresco.