Frittata, the rustic Italian omelet, is a dish I make again and again during springtime. It’s a simple, forgiving technique- much like a crustless quiche- open to endless variations. The method is to lightly sauté filling ingredients in a high-sided skillet, then pour over beaten eggs (with cream or milk) and cook for a moment on the stovetop until almost set, transferring the skillet to the oven broiler for a minute or two until puffed and golden on top. A frittata is easygoing, just like a sunny spring day, and can be served warm or at room temperature. It’s even good reheated the next morning for breakfast, after the flavors have had a chance to mingle overnight in the fridge. This laid back dish travels well and loves to go on picnics or garden parties. Frittata is a celebration of the spring garden, and it’s fun to modify the basic recipe based on what is ready for harvest. This week I’m enjoying a recipe for Spring Onion, Pea, and Chive Frittata with Goat Cheese that’s an ode to the flavors of spring: fresh herbs, sweet succulent peas, and tangy goat cheese.
I believe a frittata should be light and fresh, and the formula of fresh herbs+spring vegetables+cheese is a winning combo that makes it easy to cook this dish intuitively, without a recipe. Asparagus, mint, and goat cheese would be a delicious variation, or maybe spinach, green garlic, and goat cheese. Other spring vegetables well-suited to frittatas are leeks, any green leafy vegetable, mushrooms, tarragon, thyme, and basil. Grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese may also be added for variety. Fresh eggs make a huge difference in the flavor of a frittata, saving the dish from blandness and lending a rich, savory character. Many recipes call for a dozen eggs, but since I’m only cooking for my husband and myself, I use 8 eggs. It’s important to cook the frittata until just set. An overcooked frittata will be dry and rubbery.
A frittata can be prepared in just a few minutes, which makes this dish great for entertaining and a welcome addition to brunch. My favorite way to serve frittata is for lunch with a salad of spicy spring arugula and radishes dressed simply in lemon and olive oil. The Italian frittata embodies rustic elegance, and celebrates spring in all her restrained glory.
Spring Onion, Pea, and Chive Frittata with Goat Cheese
- 8 eggs
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 6 spring onions, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas (if using frozen, thaw them in cool water)
- 2 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Whisk together eggs and milk in a bowl, then add chives and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and set the bowl aside. Melt the butter in a skillet (about 10 inches is a good size) or cast iron pan over medium heat. Add spring onion slices and sauté for a minute to soften. Add the peas to the skillet and cook for a minute before pouring over the egg mixture. Cook the frittata in the skillet, using a spatula to push the eggs from the outer edge of the pan towards the center. Once the frittata is mostly set at the bottom but still wet on top, sprinkle over the goat cheese and move the skillet from the stovetop to the oven. Turn on the broiler and cook the frittata for about two minutes, until puffed and golden brown on top. The frittata should be just set, and not overcooked. Remove the skillet from the oven and serve the frittata warm with a salad of fresh spring greens.