Persian-inspired herb frittata

So far, this has been the summer of herbs. As part of the quest to transform my cooking habits, I’ve been relying heavily on fresh herbs–parsley, dill, mint, basil, and chives–to add brightness and spark to our meals. One recipe, in particular, has been in heavy rotation around here.

Many years ago, I bookmarked Martha Rose Shulman’s recipe for spinach and herb frittata. Inspired by an Iranian dish called kuku sabzi, it’s packed to bursting with greens and fresh herbs. A few weeks ago, I remembered the recipe and dug it back out. I’ve been making it at least once a week since, tinkering a little each time.

I’ve made no secret of my love for frittatas. They’re quick, wholesome, and welcoming to just about anything in the fridge. You can eat them warm, room temperature, or cold. They make a great grab-and-go breakfast or light lunch, or you can cut them small and serve them as appetizers.

My usual frittatas are full of cheese and sausage–delicious, but on the stodgy side. This green frittata is much lighter and brighter, with the assertive flavor and leafy crunch of barely cooked herbs. I’ve mostly been eating it straight from the fridge, but this could easily be an elegant summer party dish, tucked into a picnic spread or laid out with a cheese-and-crackers board.

persian herb frittata 1

Since there are a lot of herbs to dispatch, a really sharp chef’s knife is your best friend here. Just pile everything in the middle of your largest cutting board and go at it with the knife. The finer you chop the herbs and greens, the more even the frittata’s texture will be. Some days I have the patience to chop things down really fine; other days I give up when the herbs are still spiky and uneven. If I have walnuts in the house, I’ll chop up a couple handfuls, or pop them in a zip-top bag and bash them with a rolling pin if I’m feeling lazy.

After fiddling (a lot) with the ratios, I’ve settled on 6 whole eggs, 1/4 cup of Greek yogurt, about 6 ounces of greens, and 3 cups of chopped herbs as my ideal frittata mix. You could start cooking on the stovetop and finish under the broiler; I find it a lot easier and more foolproof to bake the whole thing in the oven. (I’ve included instructions for both methods in the recipe below.) Whichever approach you take, make sure to season the egg mix with a heavy hand–eggs can take a fair amount of salt, and I love lots of black pepper in any frittata or omelet I make.

persian herb frittata 2

Persian-Inspired Herb Frittata (serves 4-6 as an entree, 10-12 as an appetizer)

Adapted from Recipes for Health, with a few tweaks from elsewhere

Note: Any combination of “soft” herbs will work for this frittata: parsley, dill, mint, chives, cilantro, basil, tarragon, or arugula. I like to add some thinly sliced green scallion tops when I have them around, and sometimes a seeded and minced green chile (jalapeno or serrano) if I feel like a touch of heat.

About 6 oz (1 bag or half a bunch) spinach, kale, chard, or other greens, stemmed and washed

Salt to taste

About 3 cups finely chopped fresh herbs (see note)

6 large eggs

1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt or unsweetened almond milk*

1 tbsp sweet rice flour or all-purpose flour

1 tsp kosher salt or coarse sea salt

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

Freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts (optional)

1 tbsp olive oil

*If you can tolerate lactose, feel free to use milk, cream, or whatever other dairy you have on hand.

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add greens and blanch until they’re wilted but still bright green–10 to 20 seconds for spinach, 1 to 2 minutes for kale or chard. Drain the greens and rinse under cold water until they’re cool enough to handle. Squeeze out as much liquid as you can, then finely chop the greens.

In a medium mixing bowl, beat together eggs, yogurt or milk, flour, salt, turmeric, and black pepper. Add chopped greens, herbs, and walnuts (if using). Mix thoroughly, then let the mixture stand for 15-30 minutes so the herbs can soften and the flavors can meld.

Stovetop/broiler method: Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in an oven-safe skillet (either nonstick or well-seasoned cast iron). Add egg mixture and spread in an even layer. Let cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the bottom and sides start to set. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 10-15 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally, until the frittata is nearly set but still a bit wet on top. Turn the broiler on high and slide the skillet under it, about 3 inches from the heating element. Broil for 1-2 minutes, or until the top of the frittata is set and just starting to brown.

Oven method: While the egg mixture rests, preheat the oven to 350º F and position a rack in the middle. Use olive oil to grease a 9-inch round nonstick cake pan. Add egg mixture and spread in an even layer. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the frittata is set in the center and lightly browned around the edges.

Whichever method you use, let the frittata rest in the pan for at least 10 minutes before turning out onto a cutting board. Cut the frittata into wedges or squares, and serve warm or at room temperature. Leftovers will keep, tightly wrapped, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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