You say brunch, we say frittata
Much of the work needed for this spring leek frittata can be done a day ahead of time. (Phil Mansfield/The Associated Press)
We’ve romanticized brunch to the point that in certain cities, we will wait in a two-hour line to eat waffles with a side of French fries. But if you’ve served brunch at home, you know that a two-hour line can be a picnic compared to the stress of getting a full meal on a decorated table before noon.
It’s a struggle to resist the urge to overcomplicate a party. But the truth is, a simple, well-executed meal is more enjoyable for your guests than one that leaves you frantic in the kitchen. The simple answer for your brunch woes? A frittata.
Think of a frittata as a crust-less quiche, which is great since the crust is the hard part — the rest is just cutting veggies and cracking eggs. The beauty of a frittata is twofold: It can be filled with the odds and ends from your refrigerator, and it can be made ahead of time and served at room temperature.
Frittatas are typically studded with a combination of meats, vegetables, and cheese, but the versatility of the dish is its greatest asset. This spring leek frittata calls for leeks, peppers, and goat cheese, but your ingredients are limited only by your imagination. Leftover grilled veggies, baby spinach, and scraps of cheese can all find a home in your frittata.
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The texture of a frittata is soft and custardy and depends on the balance between cooked eggs and added liquids. Because a soggy frittata is the quickest way to ruin brunch, it’s important to manage the moisture content of your add-in ingredients.
Quickly pre-cooking your ingredients is the best way to make sure extra liquids don’t end up sabotaging your hard work. If you’re using greens, like spinach or chard, give them a squeeze once they’re cooked to get out as much moisture as possible.
Most often, we see frittatas baked in large dishes and sliced into wedges for serving. This is a great option for a buffet or casual brunch party, and if you would prefer, this recipe can be made in a 9- or 10-inch baking dish (lightly butter the dish before adding the ingredients, to make serving easier). But made individually, these frittatas are a special main dish for a sit-down brunch. What’s better is that you can personalize them to suit your guests’ preferences.
Though these frittatas are simple enough to prepare just before serving, making them ahead of time means brunch in a snap. CIA Chef Bruce Mattel says, “Fully prepare all of your ingredients a day ahead, like grating cheese, cooking the vegetables, and beating the eggs. You can even make the frittata an hour or two prior and serve it at room temperature. What could be easier?”
For a spread that’s as beautiful as it is satisfying, serve your frittatas alongside a mix of hot and cold accompaniments like fresh asparagus, smoked salmon, and first-of-the-season strawberries. Now, what’s for lunch? Stay tuned.
Spring leek frittata
Start to finish: 25 minutes (Active: 10 minutes)
5 large eggs
3 tablespoons whole milk
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 red bell pepper, diced (about ¾ cup)
3 oil-packed sundried tomatoes, diced
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
2 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Place four 12-ounce crocks, ramekins, or stoneware baking dishes on a baking sheet. Transfer to the oven to warm.
Trim the dark green leaves and root end of the leek. Cut in half lengthwise, then thinly slice each half. Transfer the sliced leek to a bowl of cold water, separating the layers with your fingers, and let rest for 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to gently transfer the leeks to another bowl, being careful not to disturb any sediment at the bottom of the bowl.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, and black pepper. Set aside.
3. Melt the butter in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the red pepper, tomatoes, and reserved leek and cook until the vegetables are softened, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the chives.
4. Remove the hot baking dishes from the oven. Evenly distribute the cooked vegetables among the dishes. Cover the vegetables with the egg mixture, dividing it evenly among the four dishes.
5. Bake the frittatas until the eggs are set, but still slightly jiggly on top, about 13 minutes (see note). Remove from the oven and immediately top the frittatas with crumbled goat cheese, if using. Serve hot or at room temperature.
6. Chef’s Note: The cooking time will be influenced by the type of material, size, and shape of your baking dish. Keep an eye on your frittata and adjust the cooking time, as needed.
Nutrition information per serving: 183 calories; 108 calories from fat; 12 g fat (6 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 284 mg cholesterol; 400 mg sodium; 7 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 3 g sugar; 11 g protein.
— Provided to The Associated Press by The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.