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If the egg is the versatile gymnast of the culinary world, the star of a thousand different techniques and dishes, the frittata is probably its signature move. It's quick, it's easy, and you can throw almost anything into it and come up with a winning recipe. You can whip one up in under 20 minutes, so it's ideal for a quick weekday breakfast or weekend brunch, but we're betting it will score a place in your dinner rotation, too.
Frittatas are one of our all-time favorite ways to use up leftovers. Chopped roast chicken, grilled vegetables, rice, even cooked pasta make great additions, but in this case, we've opted to fill the dish with bacon and corn. Corn starts losing its sweetness soon after it's picked, and, while modern corn varieties stay sweet longer, the best corn is still the mid- to late-summer stuff you get fresh, so we like to use it when we can. Of course, there's no reason you shouldn't use corn during other times of the year if you can find good stuff, or even frozen corn kernels if you're not able to get fresh. In cooked recipes like these, frozen corn kernels will often have better flavor than off-season fresh corn.
The bacon, cooked just to the point of crispness, gives the frittata its salty, smoky base flavor, and the vegetable ingredients need just a quick sauté in a tablespoon of the leftover bacon fat.
Our cheese of choice here is Gruyère, which you can sometimes find pre-shredded for a great time-saver. If you're buying a wedge, instead of grating it, cut it into half-inch cubes. This is a technique Daniel uses in this quiche and Kenji uses in this frittata to deliver delicious little pockets of cheesy goodness. If you can't find or don't like Gruyère, cheddar is a fine substitute. Fontina would also be a good choice, and it melts beautifully. Spicy jalapeño and a generous amount of chopped scallions round out the corn's sweet flavor without competing, and also add lovely green flecks in what would otherwise be a study in yellow.
Some frittata recipes don't use any cream or milk, but we find that doing so adds a lovely creaminess and protects the eggs from becoming rubbery. Just make sure to use full-fat milk or half and half. (Using 2% wouldn't be a disaster, but the frittata won't be very custardy. Skip skim completely.) The ratio we use produces something between the creaminess of a quiche and the egginess of an omelette. The eggs puff beautifully when they first come out of the oven, but this frittata is just as good at room temperature as it is hot.
Be careful not to overcook it. A good frittata should be just set, on the edge of trembly. Over-baking can give the eggs a spongy texture, which is definitely unpleasant. If the eggs look almost set, but you want the top darker, place the frittata a little closer to the broiler to finish browning.
Once you've made a few frittatas and are comfortable with the technique, you'll be able to adjust the ingredients according to the season and your taste: blanched dark greens in the fall, for example, or roasted winter squash later in the year. Be creative and have fun! It's only dinner.
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