Our Favorite Frittata: A Flexible One-Dish Wonder
I feel a little silly passing this off as a recipe; it feels a little bit like sharing a recipe for “a sandwich, you know, but a sandwich I really, really like!” It’s not revolutionary or complicated.
If you’re unfamiliar with the flexible dish that is the frittata, consider this your crash course. A frittata is, by definition, an oven-baked egg dish with veggies and/or meats in it. Some people call it crustless quiche. Some people call it an oven omelette. I call it “the quickest, easiest way to use up whatever’s hanging around in my fridge and whip up a nutritious meal in a hurry.”
If you’re already a frittata lover, well, I hope you enjoy this version. If you don’t, I trust you can come up with a combination you like better. The truth is that this is the version we had this week; I truly do make it based on whatever’s handy, and it’s usually a little different every time.
Ingredients for Frittata
10 large eggs
1 cup milk
1 package spinach (9-10 oz.)
1 package sliced button mushrooms (8 oz.)
1 Vidalia onion
2 medium bell peppers (about 1 cup chopped)
4 oz. feta cheese
2 tsp. olive oil
1-2 tsp. tarragon
salt and pepper to taste
Directions for Fritatta
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Part of the great thing about frittata is that you don’t use every pot and pan in the kitchen; use a single 12″ skillet to work on the stovetop and then finish in the oven, and that’s it. I use my cast iron, but any pan that’s safe for oven use is fine.
Put your skillet on medium heat and add the olive oil. While it heats, dice your onion (the size of the pieces doesn’t matter too much, but go smaller if you have family members who insist they hate onions) into uniform-sized pieces. Add the onions to the pan and let them caramelize—just give it a stir every few minutes to prevent burning. While the onions are going, do the rest of your prep, though it’s not much: chop up your peppers, crack the eggs into a large bowl, and whisk the milk in with the eggs.
Once the onion is browned but not burned, add the sliced mushrooms and a generous measure of salt and pepper and stir frequently until the mushrooms have given up their liquid. Now comes the fun part: start adding spinach. If you’ve never done this before, you will put some spinach in the skillet and think, “This is way too much spinach. This can’t possibly all fit in here.” But it will, because the spinach will wilt down. Either dump it all in and stir carefully, or add it by handfuls, stirring as you go, adding more when the spinach in the pan has wilted. Once the spinach has all gone in and settled down, add the chopped peppers and stir everything together for a minute.
At this point there will be quite a lot of liquid in the pan, and you don’t want that in your frittata. Remove the pan from the heat and pour off the liquid as best you can without dumping all of the ingredients into the sink. (Alternatively, dump everything into a colander or sieve, then back into the pan. I won’t think any less of you.) Taste the veggies to see if they need more salt or pepper, and add it if they do. Add your tarragon (just a teaspoon, if you’re wary, or up to two, if you’re not) and stir.
Pour the egg-and-milk mixture evenly over the vegetables and let it sit on the burner to start firming up. There is some debate as to the “proper” approach at this point; some say you should stir after adding the eggs, others say not to. Generally I will rearrange things with a poke or two if, say, I feel like adding the eggs made the filling uneven. After about five minutes, scatter the feta over the top. (If you don’t wait the five minutes, it will sink and disappear. It will taste good, but not be as pretty.) Put the pan in the oven for another 10-20 minutes (see notes below), until the edges of the frittata are brown and the center is set (when you poke it with a knife, no oozing should occur).
Variations and Notes on my Frittata Recipe
On Cooking Time: You may have noticed I said 10-20 minutes in the oven, which seems like kind of a big time window. It is. It depends on the kind of pan you use, and it also depends on whether or not you have something else in the oven with it. Cast iron holds more heat than a lighter-weight pan, for example, but cooking the frittata at the same time as a pan of french fries means you have to cook it longer. And I really like to serve this with sweet potato french fries. (Mostly because I like fries, and they feel less naughty alongside a high-protein, vegetarian entree.) The point is that the cooking time really will vary, and you just have to keep an eye on it.
On Spices, Cheese, and Meat additions: I happen to believe tarragon is an undervalued spice, and I also happen to believe it’s particularly delicious with mushrooms and eggs, hence this combination. If you don’t like tarragon or don’t have it, your frittata will be different, and your family members won’t tilt their heads at the table, going, “Wait, what spice is this? It’s weird. Good, but weird,” but you can still make it delicious with something else. When I don’t use tarragon, I often use sage. When my vegetarian kid isn’t here and I make a frittata with meat, I often use rosemary or thyme. And speaking of meat, go for it. We usually do a vegetarian version, but this is truly one of those “whatever sounds good probably is” kinds of dishes. Don’t like feta? Use a different cheese. Or no cheese. The only thing I think you probably can’t do is a vegan version. The eggs are sort of the main thing. But other than that, it’s hard to go wrong.
We eat this out of the oven for dinner, and then eat leftovers for lunches, cold. It’s good both ways. I wouldn’t recommend freezing it, though (depending on the ingredients, that can make it chewy), so plan to eat it all within a few days. One pan yields six hearty servings.