If you like quiche but hate to roll crust, or if you crave omelets but your homemade ones always turn into scrambled eggs, you really should be making frittata. This crustless quiche or open-face omelet is just as adaptable to the ingredients you have on hand as its more finicky cousins. You can eat it at any meal and serve it as a tapa or a main. What’s not to like?
My first memorable frittatas were made by a Spanish woman running a hostel in Greece, so in my mind a frittata must have potatoes and the best additional ingredients are homegrown tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, and basil and homemade feta. I include the potatoes in my base recipe, but you can easily drop them and highlight other ingredients—or just use whatever’s in your fridge. Before summer crops explode, I tend to fill my frittatas with baby chard or spinach and herbs.
Basic Potato Frittata
1/3 pound onion (about 3/4 cup when thinly sliced)
1 pound potatoes, peeled (about 2 cups when thinly sliced)
2 cloves garlic
3–4 tablespoons olive oil
salt, freshly ground black pepper, and other seasonings to taste
Thinly slice the onion and potatoes and mince the garlic. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a 10-inch, ovenproof cast iron or nonstick skillet. Add the onion and potato and sauté, turning the vegetables occasionally, for about 10 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic; cook for about 5 more minutes, until the potatoes are tender and starting to brown.
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs with the salt and pepper, adding other seasonings if desired (see below). Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables in the skillet. Cook, using a wooden spatula to stir to the skillet’s bottom, for about 2 minutes, until the eggs start to form large, wet curds. Distribute the eggs and vegetables evenly using the spatula and then cook, undisturbed, for about 30 seconds.
Put the skillet on the top rack under the oven’s broiler for 3–4 minutes; watch it closely and pull out the hot skillet, using potholders, when the surface turns puffy and lightly browned. Set on a cooling rack for 5 minutes to finish cooking. Use a thin spatula to loosen the edges of the frittata, and then slice it into wedges, taking care not to score the pan and using the spatula to lift each wedge free. Serve immediately or later at room temperature, storing leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge. Serves 3–4.
Tips & Tricks
- If your pan is well seasoned or nonstick, potatoes in 3–4 tablespoons of olive oil shouldn’t cling to its bottom. If you encounter problems, use more oil and then drain off the excess before adding other ingredients.
- With so much potato, it’s important to shift the slices often enough that they cook evenly. Alternatively, you could cook the potatoes in batches. If you’re adding other ingredients, such as for Spinach and Herb Frittata, use less potato and onion.
- Frittata recipes usually say to leave the eggs alone while they set, a scary prospect for the invisible bottom of the frittata when pans, stovetops, and cooks are all so variable. The good folks at Cook’s Illustrated support the initial stir—just make sure you don’t stir so much you create a scramble.
- It’s easy to toughen eggs under the heat of a broiler, so watch carefully to ensure they don’t overcook. The frittata may not be fully set when you remove it from the oven; wait the rest time to ensure it has cooked through before you cut into it.
Twice as Tasty
We’re big breakfast eaters at my house—but rarely at breakfast time. A brunch serving of Braised Breakfast Potatoes topped with basted eggs is common on weekends, and I’ve been known to cook a couple of Sourdough Waffles for lunch, dinner, or even a late-night, post-dancing snack. Frittatas are also perfect any time of day. Serve one for breakfast instead of an omelet, or pair it with a small salad for lunch. Add another side for dinner, or make two variations to serve as appetizers or, Spanish style, tapas. A frittata wedge is tasty hot, warm, or at room temperature; I’ll admit to occasionally eating one cold from the fridge, but it is best after being reheated briefly in the toaster oven.
Spinach and Herb Frittata
1/2 pound potatoes, peeled (about 1 cup when thinly sliced)
2 cloves garlic
3–4 sprigs fresh oregano (about 1 tablespoon when minced)
small handful fresh chives (about 2 tablespoons when minced)
2 ounces spinach (about 1 packed cup when slivered)
3–4 tablespoons olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Prepare and cook the onion, potatoes, and garlic as you would for Basic Potato Frittata, using a 10-inch, ovenproof cast iron or nonstick skillet and turning the vegetables occasionally to ensure even cooking.
Meanwhile, mince the herbs and sliver the spinach. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs with the herbs, salt, pepper, and cheese, reserving some of the cheese for the top, if desired; set the bowl aside. Add the spinach to the skillet and toss with the other vegetables for about 2 minutes, until wilted.
Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables in the skillet and cook, using the same scrape-and-stir method as for the basic recipe, just until the eggs start to form large, wet curds. Distribute the pan’s contents evenly using the spatula and then cook, undisturbed, for a further 30 seconds.
Slide the skillet under the oven’s broiler for 3–4 minutes, until the surface is puffy and lightly browned. Use potholders to remove the hot skillet from the oven; let rest for 5 minutes to finish cooking, and then loosen the edges of the frittata with a thin spatula. Slice wedges, taking care not to score the pan, before lifting each wedge free. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature, storing leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge. Serves 3–4.
Tips & Tricks
- Frittatas can, and should, vary with the season: leftover Grilled Asparagus with spring garlic and scallions, fresh summer tomatoes and basil, and late-harvest potato and mushrooms are just a few ideas. If your hens are good layers, you can even caramelize dry-stored apples and onion for one in winter.
- Vegetable variations are just the beginning. You can change the cheese, herbs, and seasonings or add precooked meat. Leftovers work great; just bring them to room temperature first.
- If you have two 10-inch pans, you can make two variations to serve a larger group. If you decide to scale up the recipe, scale up the pan size as well so that the larger frittata cooks through in the center.
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