Tag Archives: Frittata

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

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Turnip greens and blue cheese frittata

When it comes to a fridge cleanout, there’s nothing like a frittata. As long as you have eggs and maybe some cheese on hand, you can turn just about any leftovers, cured meats, or surplus produce into a lovely meal. This is also handy if, like me, you sometimes forget about that mostly-unused carton of eggs in the back of the fridge until it’s a few days past the sell-by date.

On my most recent fridge raid, I found the aforementioned forgotten eggs, an onion, the greens from a bunch of kohlrabi, and a handful of blue cheese crumbles. I had a hunch that the bitter greens would go nicely with the salty-funky cheese, and the eggs needed using, so a frittata it was. I threw it together while taking a lunch break from work and ate a wedge of it out of hand while catching up on email. It was the perfect quick, nourishing desk lunch, but also something I could easily see serving guests or packing along on a picnic. I wrapped and fridged the leftover wedges and ate them for lunch the rest of the week.

The texture of the greens really made this. I could have cooked them down to a frozen-spinach consistency and squeezed them dry. But I decided to risk some extra moisture, and just barely wilted them in a skillet. It was the right call. The greens kept a lovely supple almost-crunch, and the pieces closest to the top crisped in the oven and turned kale-chip-like. The moisture from the greens made the underside of the frittata a little damp, but a quick swipe with a paper towel fixed that problem.

The one drawback of making frittata is that it often requires specific equipment. To make it the way I make it, you need a 10-inch skillet that is both oven-safe and nonstick enough for eggs. Regular nonstick would work, as would very well-seasoned cast iron (which is what I use). If you don’t have a pan that works, you can pre-cook the vegetables in any old skillet, then transfer them to a greased and parchment-lined 9-inch cake pan. Add the cheese and eggs as directed in the recipe, and keep an eye on the frittata as it bakes–it may need another minute or two to compensate for the different pan size.

turnip greens blue cheese frittata

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Potato, chorizo, and pepper frittata

I’ve been making a version of this frittata for years. And thanks to my friend Elly, I think I’ve finally hacked the technique.

It’s not a secret, certainly, that eggs + potatoes + peppers + sausage = phenomenal breakfast. Combine them in a frittata–a sort of chubby omelet or crustless quiche–and you get something deeply comforting and filling for fairly little effort. A frittata can be eaten warm or at room temperature, on a plate or on the go, for any meal of the day. I’ve done the potato-pepper-sausage thing more times than I can count, and it’s still my favorite frittata filling.

That said, I’ve had a dicey relationship with frittata for a while. The usual method I used is to cook the filling on the stove, then mix in the eggs and scramble them until they just start to set, then finish the whole thing under the broiler. It makes for a very pretty final product–golden brown on top, solidly firm all the way through–but I just didn’t like the texture. My frittatas always ended up grainy and tough, and the browned top tasted more bitter than delicious. For a long while I stopped making frittatas, because I was tired of laboring over delicious fillings only to wind up choking down a mass of crumbly egg.

Enter Elly and her genius technique. Instead of starting the eggs in a hot pan and finishing them under the broiler, she suggested cooking them all the way through in a moderate-hot oven. We went to the farmer’s market for ingredients: firm Spanish chorizo, golden potatoes, curly frying peppers, scallions. I started out the usual way, sauteing everything in an oven-safe skillet on the stove. Then, after sliding the pan off the heat and letting the filling cool for a second, Elly added the eggs and we slid the whole assembly into a 400-degree oven to bake. 15 minutes later, I pulled out a gorgeous golden egg-cake, puffed and set but not at all browned. It was tender and smooth all the way through, and the eggs had gently absorbed the flavors of pepper and potato and onion. That frittata got eaten so fast, I didn’t even have time to photograph the wedges on a plate. With a tangy spinach salad, it made for a glorious Sunday lunch.

One note: in order to really pull this off well, your skillet must be both oven-safe and nonstick. I used a stainless steel skillet, and while the frittata did come out with some effort, it left behind a heckuva mess. If you don’t have an appropriate skillet, I’d suggest sauteing the filling first, then finishing the frittata in a generously greased or parchment-lined 9×13 baking dish. The cooking time may be slightly different this way, so keep an eye on it.

potato chorizo pepper frittata

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