Our spring entertaining often centers on brunch. Hungry, we’re looking for strong coffee and an easy-to-assemble main course. Enter the oven-baked frittata. Fresh eggs, beaten with cream or milk, embrace tender vegetables and fresh herbs.
Easier than an omelet, Italian-inspired frittatas are cooked in a skillet with the vegetables stirred in rather than used as a filling for folded eggs. Frittatas can be cooked completely on the stove top. I prefer to cook them in a low oven where the steady heat prevents excess browning and overcooking.
Accompany the asparagus frittata with sliced ripe tomatoes and crusty bread. Serve the carrot and spinach version with a berry fruit cup and toasted raisin bread.
ASPARAGUS, NEW POTATO AND FRESH MOZZARELLA FRITTATA
8 small (1-inch diameter) new potatoes (12 ounces total), quartered
1 bunch (12 ounces) asparagus, tough ends trimmed
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 green onions, trimmed, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
10 large eggs
½ cup whole milk or half-and-half
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup diced (4 ounces total) fresh mozzarella or brick cheese
Chopped fresh dill, for garnish
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Put potatoes into a large microwave-safe bowl. Add water to barely cover potatoes. Cover with a lid or plastic wrap vented at one corner. Microwave on high (100 percent power), stirring once, until nearly fork-tender, 4-5 minutes. Drain.
Meanwhile, cut asparagus into 1 inch lengths and set tips aside. Heat olive oil in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add asparagus stalks; cook until nearly fork-tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in asparagus tips and green onions; cook 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in potatoes and dill. (Mixture can be made ahead up to 2 days; re-warm before continuing.)
Whisk together eggs, milk, salt and pepper in a medium bowl.
Place skillet with vegetables over medium heat. When hot, sprinkle cheese over vegetables. Reduce heat to low; gently pour egg mixture over vegetables. Cook until bottom is nearly set, about 3 minutes. Transfer to oven; cook until a knife inserted in center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Serve warm sprinkled with more dill.
PER SERVING: 279 calories, 18 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 327 mg cholesterol, 14 g carbohydrates, 16 g protein, 337 mg sodium, 2 g fiber
CHEESY SPINACH AND TRI-COLOR CARROT FRITTATA
4 cups 1-inch cubes bread
2 small bunches (1 pound total) skinny carrots, (such as tri-color carrots), ends trimmed, peeled
1 medium sweet onion, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
6 cups (5 ounces) baby spinach or baby kale leaves
12 large eggs
1 cup half-and-half or milk
½ teaspoon minced fresh thyme or ¼ teaspoon dried
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
½ cup shredded cheese, such as Parmesan or Gouda
Chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley and cilantro
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spread bread cubes on a baking sheet. Bake until barely golden, 8-10 minutes. Transfer to a well-buttered 13-by-9-inch baking dish.
Cut carrots into ½-inch wide rounds. Mix carrots, onions and oil on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt. Bake until fork-tender and golden, 20-30 minutes. Stir in garlic and spinach to coat spinach with oil. Return to oven to wilt spinach, 2-3 minutes.
Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Distribute carrot mixture over bread cubes in the baking dish.
Whisk together eggs, half-and-half, thyme, remaining ½ teaspoon salt and red pepper flakes in a bowl. Carefully pour into baking pan. Use the back of a spoon to immerse bread into egg mixture.
Bake 25 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese. Continue baking until a knife inserted comes out clean, 5-10 minutes more. Use a metal spatula to cut into squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.
PER SERVING (for 8 servings): 285 calories, 18 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 294 mg cholesterol, 18 g carbohydrates, 16 g protein, 634 mg sodium, 3 g fiber