Simplest Omelet

Makes 2 servings
Time: 15 minutes

Omelets are ideal at breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner. This recipe is for a really basic omelet, cooked in one pan and shared. (For individual omelets, divide the ingredients in half and cook in batches.) But you can fill them with almost anything. The variations and list that follow range from classic (and usually simple) to a bit more complex; some are practically all-in-one meals.

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

1. Beat the eggs with the milk and some salt and pepper in a bowl. Put a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat and wait a minute. Add the 2 tablespoons butter or oil; when the butter melts or the oil is hot, swirl it around the pan until the butter foam subsides or the oil coats the pan, 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.

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

3. There are a couple of ways to proceed. You can fold the omelet into thirds, using a large spatula, or just fold the omelet in half and slide it from the pan. Rub the top of the omelet with the remaining teaspoon of butter or oil and serve.

Spanish Omelet:

Before cooking the omelet, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons chopped scallion or onion and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in 1 cup chopped tomato and cook for about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and keep warm. Add the tomato mixture, with a sprinkling of smoked paprika if you like, to the eggs-in a line along the axis on which you will fold or roll-about a minute before finishing the omelet.

Denver Omelet.

Before cooking the omelet, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons each of chopped onion and red bell pepper and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in 1/2 cup chopped cooked ham and cook for about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and keep warm. Add the ham mixture to the eggs-in a line along the axis on which you will fold or roll-about a minute before finishing the omelet.

13 Ideas for Filling Omelets

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

1. Grated cheese-virtually any kind that melts at least a little-about 2 tablespoons per egg

2. About 1/2 cup sautéed mushrooms, onion, spinach, or leftover cooked vegetables (steamed, boiled, or sautéed; rinse with boiling water if necessary to remove unwanted flavors), cut into small dice

3. Peeled, seeded, and diced ripe tomato, drained of excess moisture

4. Cottage cheese or goat cheese (mixed with fresh chopped herbs if you like)

5. Chopped ham, crisp-cooked bacon, sausage meat, or other chopped meat

6. Marmalade, jam, or jelly (sprinkle the top of the omelet with a little sugar before serving if you like)

7. 1 teaspoon chopped fresh stronger herbs like oregano, tarragon, or thyme to 1 tablespoon milder ones like parsley, chive, chervil, basil, or mint

8. Fruit, like peeled and grated apples or berries, briefly cooked with butter, sugar, and cinnamon

9. About 1/4 cup each cream cheese and smoked salmon, cut into bits

10. Cooked seafood, like shrimp, scallops, lobster, or crabmeat, shredded or minced

11. Minced red bell pepper, mild chiles (like New Mexican or poblano) or roasted red peppers

12. About 1/2 cup gently sautéed sliced or chopped onion

13. Mashed potatoes or any mashed vegetables, like sweet potatoes, celery root, or parsnips