Photos by 
Jessicarobyn Keyser
Jessicarobyn Keyser

It's Not a Scramble to Make This Omelet

by 
Julie Laing
May 6, 2022

When is it worth attempting an omelet instead of just scrambling eggs? That’s a question I ask myself almost every time I pull a skillet from the cupboard along with dibs and dabs of vegetables from the refrigerator. If I save omelet making for special occasions and guests, it feels like a stressful challenge I’m doomed to mess up. But is it really worth making an omelet just for myself? I’ve decided the answer is a definite yes.

Omelets have a reputation of being fancy and finicky, like souffle and hollandaise. We order them for breakfast or brunch from favorite restaurants because they seem too difficult to make, at least well, at home. But if you think about it, the ease with which short-order cooks churn out omelets for dozens of diners every morning should indicate their simplicity. Omelets aren’t so complex that you need to be a trained chef to fix one. You just need to know the tricks that make them doable.

It took me a long time to come to that conclusion. I’d start out with several eggs, piles of vegetables, a mound of cheese, and an old skillet. No matter how I layered or flipped and flopped the ingredients, they almost always devolved into a veggie scramble. Growing up, my mom had a special hinged pan for making omelets, but even then I tended to end up with a mess rather than a perfect half-moon of cooked eggs.

Many trials and omelets-turned-scrambles eventually revealed that the same rules apply to omelets as to homemade pizza: Use the right cooking surface and keep the ingredients in check.

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The “right” pan doesn’t have to be one designed solely for omelets. I actually find it easier to make an omelet in a skillet than in my mom’s special hinged pan. Pan choice is more about quality and size. A skillet with a good nonstick surface will easily release the cooked egg. (My well-worn one tended to burn and stick, no matter how much butter I melted onto it.) It’s equally important to match the number of eggs to the pan’s size. An 8- to 10-inch skillet, measured across the top rather than the base, comfortably holds three lightly whisked eggs.

Beyond that,  the real trick to the perfect omelet is to avoid putting too much inside. A three-egg omelet holds about 1/2 cup of filling; a heavier hand risks bursting the semicircle at its seams. When I chop piles of vegetables and grate a mound of cheese, I’m craving a scramble. I accept it and enjoy every bite.

One final trick: Dense vegetables like asparagus, bell pepper, mushrooms, onions, and zucchini have the best texture when cooked before they’re folded within the egg. This makes last night’s leftovers this morning’s treasures – whether you’re making an omelet just for yourself or secretly serving leftovers to guests. You can cook down greens if you’re adding them as well, but I prefer them simply warmed, giving off more of a stuffed salad vibe, so that’s how they work in the recipe here.

Veggie-Stuffed 3-Egg Omelet

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Serves 1-2

Ingredients

2 tbsp butter, divided

1/4 cup mushrooms, chopped

1/4 cup asparagus, chopped

1/4 cup Fifth Season spinach

2-4 tbsp grated cheese, such as cheddar or parmesan (optional)

1-3 tsp minced fresh herbs, such as chives and sorrel (optional)

3 eggs

2 tbsp water

1 tsp sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

 | 
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Serves 1-2

Ingredients

2 tbsp butter, divided

1/4 cup mushrooms, chopped

1/4 cup asparagus, chopped

1/4 cup Fifth Season spinach

2-4 tbsp grated cheese, such as cheddar or parmesan (optional)

1-3 tsp minced fresh herbs, such as chives and sorrel (optional)

3 eggs

2 tbsp water

1 tsp sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Ingredients

2 tbsp butter, divided

1/4 cup mushrooms, chopped

1/4 cup asparagus, chopped

1/4 cup Fifth Season spinach

2-4 tbsp grated cheese, such as cheddar or parmesan (optional)

1-3 tsp minced fresh herbs, such as chives and sorrel (optional)

3 eggs

2 tbsp water

1 tsp sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

1. In an 8- to 10-inch skillet, heat half of the butter over medium-high heat. Add any dense raw vegetables, such as asparagus and mushrooms, and sauté for about 3-5 minutes, until just softened.

2. Transfer the vegetables to a small bowl and set aside with the other fresh filling ingredients, such as spinach and herbs. Wipe the pan clean with a paper towel.

3. Heat the remaining butter in the skillet over medium-high heat. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and water until just blended. Briefly whisk in the salt, and then immediately pour the egg mixture into the pan.

4. Wait a few seconds for the edges to set, and then use a spatula to pull the cooked portions of egg toward the center, tilting the pan as necessary to fill the open spaces with uncooked egg. Continue cooking for 2-4 minutes, until the egg is set and will not flow.

5. Combine all vegetables and herbs into one bowl and top half of the omelet with this filling, setting aside a teaspoon of herbs for garnish if desired. Sprinkle with cheese, if using, and freshly ground pepper. With a spatula, fold the plain half of the omelet over the filling.

6. Let the omelet cook an additional 1-2 minutes as needed, until any cheese softens and the eggs just begin to darken.

7. Tilt the pan 45 degrees and slide the omelet onto a plate. Garnish as desired. Serve immediately.

About the Author

Julie Laing

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