[Photograph: Carolyn Cope]
The frittata is the Oprah of the scrambled egg world. Compared to the dainty French omelet and the high-maintenance double-boiler scrambled egg, a frittata is strong, unfussy, and forgiving. Whether you're a sun-dried tomato or a handful of chopped, frozen spinach, the frittata will accept you as you are. It will welcome you into its warm embrace. With or without millions of daily viewers, a frittata for breakfast—especially one filled with way too many vegetables—will raise you up and make you feel great about yourself (and maybe better than you used to about John Travolta, too).
Speaking of the wisdom of the masses, have you heard the one about the value of a protein- and fiber-filled breakfast? As long as it's whole foods we're talking about, I'd be willing to shout that truth from the rooftops. You'd probably hear me no matter where you are, what with all the extra energy and vibrance I'd have as a result of eating a protein- and fiber-filled breakfast. Any old frittata would serve you well on the protein front, but these five—and many others you could make using lots and lots of vegetables—will also ensure that you're well on your way to your nine a day even before the day gets rolling.
In 2009, Mark Bittman wrote a Minimalist about upping the ratio of vegetables to eggs in a frittata, because it makes more sense nutritionally and tastes mighty fine as well. I remember thinking, well, duh. I always do that when I'm cooking for myself and not feeding a crowd that has certain ideas of what a frittata should be.
I've since realized, of course, that Bittman was playing the same role there that he often does for many of us who know and care a lot about good food. He was making it socially acceptable to do in public the things we already know we ought to be doing. So maybe it's thanks to Bittman that I'd now be willing to shout from the rooftops, too: add more vegetables to your morning (or afternoon, or dinnertime) frittata!
Here are five easy and delicious ways to do it, some more purely virtuous than others. If you don't have the bandwidth for cooking in the morning, you can make one (or double up in a bigger pan) the night before and keep it in the fridge for a few days.
For a frittata that serves one, in a small bowl, beat two eggs and a pinch of salt with a fork until homogenized. Add a splash of olive oil or a small knob of good butter to an 8-inch well-seasoned cast-iron or non-stick pan. Heat over medium heat. Then:
1. Spinach, Shiitake, and Onion
Sauté half a finely diced onion and a cup of sliced shiitakes until tender, about five minutes. Add a cup of chopped frozen spinach (straight from the freezer is okay if you cook off any water that accumulates in the pan) or two to three cups of fresh baby spinach and cook until wilted and warmed through.
Pour in the eggs, reduce the heat to low, and cook until just set. With this and all the frittatas, you can cover the pan with a lid or run it briefly under the broiler if the top remains stubbornly runny.
2. Leek, Frisee, and Bacon (pictured)
Omit the oil or butter. Chop up a slice or two of good, thick bacon and cook in the pan until crisp. Drain the cooked bacon on a paper towel. Pour off all but a couple of teaspoons of the fat from the pan. Add the thinly sliced white and light-green parts of a whole leek and cook until tender, about five minutes. Add two cups of torn-up frisee and cook until wilted. Add the bacon back to the pan, then add the eggs, reduce heat to low, and cook until just set.
3. Broccoli, Basil, Sundried Tomato, and Parmesan
Use two cups of small steamed broccoli florets or a cup and a half of chopped frozen broccoli. Add the broccoli and a couple of chopped sundried tomatoes to the pan, pour in the eggs, top with half a cup of torn-up fresh basil leaves and some shavings of good parmesan cheese. Reduce the heat to low, and cook until the eggs are just set.
4. Potato, Kale, and Onion with Pimenton
Cook until tender half an onion, thinly sliced, and the thinnest slices you can make from one small boiling potato (no real need to peel unless you're feeling fussy). Add two cups of thinly sliced ribbons of lacinato kale and cook until wilted. Add the eggs, along with a sprinkle of smoked paprika, reduce heat to low, and cook until just set.
5. Red Cabbage, Jalapeno, Cilantro, and Cotija
Mince as much fresh jalapeno as you like and add to the pan along with the two cups of shredded red cabbage. Cook until just tender. Pour in the eggs, top with some chopped cilantro and a bit of crumbled cotija cheese. Reduce heat to low, and cook until just set.
What About You?
Do you ever eat frittatas that are about to burst with vegetables? Do you have any favorite ingredient combinations? Please share your thoughts in the comments.