This frittata was inspired by a recipe that my Italian grandfather used to make for our family’s breakfast feasts. It was a dressed up Italian version of scrambled eggs, featuring lots of delicious add-ins, including spicy Italian sausage, bell peppers, some zesty dried chile, and lots of Pecorino cheese. My grandfather would make that dish for extended family and friends in their north Denver kitchen, but I remember it best, growing up, as a highlight of sunny morning picnics, cooked on a campstove in the Colorado Rockies. I loved how my grandfather could take the simplest of ingredients and turn them into something extraordinarily delicious.
I still make his dish, particularly for weeknight dinners, but lately I have become enamoured with frittatas. I have experimented with a few different techniques, including cooking them on the stove and flipping them and finishing them in the oven. But my frittatas started tasting a lot better after I started using some of Heidi Swanson’s methods that she describes in her awesome cookbook, Super Natural Every Day. First, I recommend making frittatas in a cast iron (or other heavy pan). I have found that removing half of the cooked vegetables from the pan and adding them just before the pan goes into the broiler results in a lighter, less-dense frittata. The vegetables are more pronounced and retain their individual flavors. Finally, finishing the frittata under the broiler yields a puffier frittata that doesn’t overcook and get rubbery and the cheese melts to perfection. Use a lower broil setting, if your oven has one. The other secret to a perfectly cooked frittata is to not brown the underside of it, which is why I keep the heat low while it is cooking on the stove.
I coined this dish Pizza Frittata because the act of making this dish is not unlike doing the prep for a pizza, layering vegetables and cheese onto a “crust” and then sliding it into a hot oven to crisp.
To my mind, frittatas (and really egg dishes in general) are ideal for a cheap feast—they are nutritious, adaptable, they can stretch to serve a crowd, and they are delicious!