This recipe for potato, leek and spring onion frittata is a good way to use up those spring onion greens and the odd leek sitting in the fridge. What a delicious way to use up the veggies that would have ended up in the bin if I hadn’t remembered this easy recipe I hadn’t made in a very long time!
We had it with salad for dinner and the leftovers went into yummy flatbread wraps with parsley and radishes for lunch two days later when I was too busy to cook.
I’ve called this dish a frittata in the title to give an idea of what the dish is like to readers who are not too familiar with Persian cuisine. In Persian cuisine this will be a kookoo.
Persian kookoo (also spelled as kuku) is a omelette with loads of vegetables or herbs. There are some with meat or nuts too but most are vegetarian. The best thing about a kookoo is that it can be served both warm and cold. I actually like the leftovers more than the freshly made dish so I often make it ahead for brunch, picnics or as part of a mezze spread.
A kookoo is usually cooked in a small round frying pan and cut into wedges to serve but sometimes people make them in the shape of small pancakes. I prefer the traditional cake-like shape. In recent years using muffin tins for making kookoo has gained popularity too. Have you seen my Kale & Potato Egg Muffins recipe? Those delicious egg muffins were inspired by Persian kookoo sabzi (herby green kookoo). Baking them in muffin tins made it very easy to pack them into my lunch boxes for work.
The traditional way of making kookoo is on stove-top like most Persian dishes but baking in the oven is a good option too and much easier. If you are using the oven a temperature of 180-200C generally works perfectly. Duration of cooking, however, depends on the size of the dish the batter is baked in. The thicker the batter, the longer it will take to cook through.
Now a reminder: Non-stick utensils are a Persian cook’s best friend. It’s best to use a non-stick coated frying pan or cake tin to make kookoos.
To make a large kookoo to serve four (eight as starter) you will need the following ingredients:
Saffron is what makes the flavour of this cauliflower and broccoli frittata very unique. I call it a frittata just for the sake of convenience. To anyone who’s Persian it’s a kookoo (or kūkū). I find it a wonderful dish to serve for brunch but I’ll happily have it for lunch or even dinner any day. With a nice crispy lettuce salad of course.
Kookoo is any dish of vegetables, herbs, meat (or a mixture of these) or even nuts mixed with eggs and cooked to a golden perfection in the shape of a thin, round cake. There are numerous types of kookoo but the most popular one has to be kookoo sabzi, a very green frittata full of herbs. Kookoo sabzi was the dish that inspired me to make my Kale and Potato Egg Muffins (see the recipe here).
Broccoli became widely available in Iran only over a decade ago but its cousin, cauliflower, has been around for decades and is often used to make kookoo. My recipe combines the two vegetables but you can use either one on its own. Making this kookoo is an excellent way to use leftover steamed or roasted cauliflower and/or broccoli, too.
Kookoo is traditionally made in a round frying pan. This requires cooking it on gentle heat on one side and flipping it to cook the other side too. Many cooks now prefer to bake their frittata in the oven and use different shapes of tins. I like to bake kookoo in muffin tins (like the kookoo sabzi pictured above) to make serving easy. Sometimes I bake it in a square or rectangular cake tin so I can cut it into neat squares like this broccoli and cauliflower kookoo. Just make sure your tin is really non-stick.
I’m making these kale and potato egg muffins very often these days, yet until two years ago I hadn’t even heard of kale. It’s not a vegetable grown in my home country. But I wasn’t the only one.
From an obscure leafy vegetable most people didn’t know or didn’t want to eat, kale turned into a cool one all of a sudden a couple of years ago. The sales of kale soared really high and supply couldn’t meet demand at first. Lots of people bought bags of kale not knowing what to do with it and there emerged myriads of recipes for kale.
What made kale so cool? First of all, its health benefits. Food scientists told us kale was a superfood, like berries, like beets (another vegetable we didn’t want to eat). So we started getting super cool kale smoothies everywhere. I’m not much of a smoothie person myself. I’d rather eat my greens and vegetables in salads or cooked into food.
It’s my type of vegetable: green, flavourful, with lots of character! So when like everybody else I picked up my bag of kale in the supermarket I started searching for recipes. It did work nicely wilted and lightly sautéed in butter alongside chicken or fish but surely there were other ways to use it.
I set out trying it in my fusion recipes, the recipes I create by using new ingredients or cooking methods to reproduce the flavours of my childhood or by using Persian ingredients totally out of context, in absolutely non-Persian dishes for new, exciting variations, like putting saffron in my Saffron and Walnut Courgette Cake with Oat Bran.
These easy kale and potato egg muffins were the result of one of these adventures. There’s load of kale in them and they are great to serve for breakfast/brunch or as a grab-and go lunch because they are just as good cold as they are warm right out of the oven.
I took the flavour inspiration for these little mounds of healthy deliciousness from a Persian dish called kookoo sabzi. Kookoo sabzi is basically a ton of herbs mixed with eggs, spices and sometimes chopped walnuts and/or jewel-like red barberries. The very green frittata-like Persian kookoo sabzi is cooked in a frying pan on top of the stove or in the oven.
Persians eat kookoo sabzi both hot and cold. We eat it with plain fluffy rice, we eat it with green herby rice (sabzi polo), we eat it rolled into flatbread like a tortilla wrap or even in a baguette! Kookoo sabzi is also eaten alongside green rice and pan-fried fish on Persian New Year’s Eve (Nowrouz) on 21 March. Like green rice the green colour of kookoo sabzi symbolises the rebirth of nature. It’s a simple but quite iconic dish in Persian cuisine.
My kale and potato egg muffins are pretty much the same. You can have them hot or cold, on their own, with rice or tucked into pita bread with sliced tomatoes and gherkins or rolled into a tortilla. They are great as finger-food too.
What makes the flavour of these muffins quite unique is the addition of barberries and walnuts/pecans. Barberries are a superfood on their own right. The tiny jewel-like tart red berries are almost exclusively grown in Iran. There are a great many of wild and garden varieties of barberries in Europe and America but the berries from most of them have too many seeds and are not suitable for cooking.
You can find barberries in Middle Eastern groceries or online. Skip the barberries and add a handful of chopped walnuts to the mix instead if you can’t find them or use chopped unsweetened dried cranberries for a little burst of sharp flavour.
To make 24 small egg muffins you will need the following ingredients: