A few months ago, I was visiting Cleveland and took a cooking class with friends at The Western Reserve School of Cooking. One of the dishes we made with owner and chef, Catherine St. John, was an oven-baked version of the classic Italian frittata, traditionally cooked on the stovetop. This baked version is an easier method to use when feeding a crowd for breakfast or dinner. It’s perfect for the holidays.
Frittatas are very similar to omelets; they’re just not folded over. They are also firmer in texture and when cut into squares and served at room temperature, are quite portable for serving at lunch, or as an appetizer. They provide a great way to use up fresh vegetables and leftovers from the refrigerator, too.
I learned from Chef Catherine to first sauté vegetables in a non-stick skillet, then pour them into a 9 by 13-inch baking dish, add egg and cheese mixture, and bake for 20 minutes in the oven. Since learning to make frittatas in this way, I’ve been making them about once a week.
Preparing frittatas makes me feel very in touch with my Sicilian roots where egg dishes were the norm and roast chicken was not; in the olden days, people didn’t typically eat the chickens that laid their eggs! We relate to that philosophy at our house; we eat lots of egg dishes thanks to our backyard flock of free-range pasture-fed chickens.
I’ve developed a fool-proof egg mixture that is easy to remember for my frittatas: 12 large eggs, 1/2 cup whole milk or cream or ricotta, 1 heaping cup of shredded cheese, and 1/4 cup of Parmesan — added to any variety of cooked vegetables that will loosely fill your lasagna pan to about the one inch mark. The vegetables need to be pre-cooked so they do not water down your frittata while baking.
Here’s a recipe to get you started. You’ll be improvising in no time.
The Egg and Cheese Mixture:
12 large eggs
½ cup ricotta, whole milk, or cream
1 tsp salt
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ cup grated Parmesan
1 heaping cup any cheese, shredded
The Veggie Mixture:
4 cups of potatoes (about 4 medium or 1½ pounds), diced or shredded
1½ cups green onions with tops, about 5, sliced
½ red bell pepper, about ½ cup, seeded and diced
1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic (from the jar is fine)
2 cups any cooked leftover vegetable such as zucchini, summer squash, broccoli, or cauliflower, OR any uncooked greens such as spinach, chard or kale
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 350º
Chop all the fresh veggies. Here, I’ve used fresh, thin-skinned, buttery Yukon potatoes and red potatoes, red bell pepper, green onions with their stalks, and minced garlic (shown here in a tablespoon).
Sauté garlic, onion, pepper, and potatoes in olive oil, on medium heat, in a 12-inch non-stick skillet for about 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender, but still firm.
Stir in drained leftover cooked veggies and heat until warm. In this frittata, I used roasted zucchini and summer squash with green onions and garlic that I had in the fridge.
Mix together eggs, ricotta, Parmesan, salt and pepper and add mixture to the lasagna pan. I use ricotta for this dish because we keep reduced-fat milk in our fridge and it’s not substantial enough for this recipe. I do, however, always have ricotta in the fridge, and it’s a tasty substitute. If I had cream, I would use it. Remember, I like to use what I have on hand to make this recipe, and as such, I improvise quite a bit to not have to run to the grocery store for an ingredient. It’s a dumb game I play — using up what’s in the fridge; I hate throwing away food!
Put in oven and bake for 30 minutes. Insert knife point into the center to test for doneness. If it comes out clean, remove from oven. If not, cook for another 5 minutes and check again. Repeat until done.
Another frittata version: potatoes, kale, green onion, zucchini, and a lone radish
This was one day’s pickings from the backyard. I decided, as a trial, to throw all of it into a frittata along with the dairy ingredients to see if it would work. Instead of using leftover vegetables, I tried fresh kale. It was delicious.
Here it is, all prepped.
Here is how I prepped the vegetables:
A lone watermelon radish
I trimmed the stem off of each large kale leaf because it was thick and would take longer to cook.
Then, I tore the leaves into 3-inch pieces. I added the kale leaves to the vegetable sauté last, and only cooked them for one minute until wilted. Chard, collards, or spinach would also work well here. Be sure to remove the thick stems from the collards or chard.
Notice how when the frittata first comes out of the oven, it is like a soufflé, all puffed up and fluffy. It will fall after about 5-10 minutes. I think the frittata is tastiest when it is still light and fluffy like this, but as I have said, it is still excellent later in the day at room temperature, or cold from the fridge.
Another frittata version: leftover ditalini pasta and roasted zucchini, summer squash, and leeks, with fresh, chopped mint
I increased the amount of cheese for this version:
12 eggs, 1/2 cup ricotta, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 1 cup Parmesan, 2 cups mozzarella
4 cups cooked pasta, 4 cups roasted zucchini with leeks, 1/2 cup chopped mint
Prepping the mint
Prepping the mozzarella
Other delicious foods to serve at breakfast
Fruit and Nut Bread
The Biscuit King
Very Berry Clafoutis
Quiche Lorraine with Bacon and Kale
Sorghum, Seeds, and Grains Granola
How to Make Grape Jelly (and grow the grapes)
© 2016 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. No photos or text may be used without written consent.