As the weather shifts from Chilly Spring (which, in my opinion, mostly just means it’s still winter but you don’t need a puffer coat anymore) to Actual Spring, when you can wear shorts but not be sweaty, dinner becomes less about warming my belly and more about which meals travel well, what tastes just as good hot as it does room temperature. Indeed, the season of outdoor socializing approacheth (of course, this particular year, pretty much all socializing has been outdoors, even when it was 20 degrees out), and we’re going to need a meal to match. Because as much as I love a park sandwich or a backyard burger, sometimes one simply needs to change things up. Enter: frittatas, specifically this toast frittata, which will feed four and run you less than $10. It packs up nicely and tastes great hours after it’s been made. The next time one of those “dinner-picnic in the park tomorrow?” or “having a potluck this weekend!” texts comes in, just send back this recipe with an “I’ve got this.”
I certainly didn’t invent pairing eggy custard with bread (you’ve likely met strata, bread pudding, and stuffing at some point), but I’ve always wondered why frittatas are so often served with toast, when you could put the toast into the frittata and get moments of crunch as well as that magic chewy-squishy texture that happens when you soak bread in liquid. Here, you’ll toast a couple cups of torn whole-wheat bread in a pan with olive oil (about $1.50): That’s typically a hunk of whatever I have in the freezer leftover from the last time I bought bread—anything from a country-style miche to ciabatta rolls. Could you toast sliced bread in the toaster and then tear it up instead? Sure, but it won’t taste as good.
To tether together pockets of salty-creamy feta ($1.25) and plump green peas ($0.60), whisk up a dozen eggs (about $4), whole milk ($0.60), and a couple fat cloves of grated garlic with plenty of salt and pepper. Scatter thinly sliced red onion ($0.40) all over. Bake it low and slow, until the eggs are barely set, then when you’re ready to eat, scatter the whole thing with fresh herbs ($0.30), chile flakes, and—duh—plenty of flaky salt.
At this point, you’ve spent a little over $8, and you can call it a day; or, to round out the meal, toss together a quick salad: a head of green-leaf or romaine lettuce runs about $2. Toss that with whatever acid you have on hand (any vinegar, fresh lemon juice), season well with salt and pepper, then drizzle with a big glug of olive oil. Tell your friends to bring the wine. —Rebecca Firkser
Test Kitchen Notes
Nickel & Dine is a budget column by Rebecca Firkser, assigning editor at Food52 and picnic-fan. Each month, Rebecca will share an easy, flavor-packed recipe that feeds four (or just you, four times)—all for $10 or less.
- Prep time 15 minutes
- Cook time 35 minutes
- Serves 4
extra-virgin olive oil, divided
whole-wheat crusty bread, such as country-style miche, baguette, or ciabatta, torn into 2-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
plus 1 large pinch kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
garlic cloves, grated
thawed frozen peas (or fresh peas, blanched in well-salted water and drained)
large red onion (halved lengthwise), thinly sliced through the root
mild chile flakes, such as Aleppo pepper or gochugaru, or ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 to 3 tablespoons
chopped fresh tender herbs, such as parsley, chives, and/or tarragon, for serving
Flaky sea salt, for serving
- Heat the oven to 300°F. In a 10-inch oven-safe nonstick (or well-seasoned cast-iron) skillet over medium, heat 3 tablespoons of oil. Toast the bread for 5 to 7 minutes, until it’s crispy and golden on all sides (the timing can depend on your stove: If it’s charring quickly, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for a couple more minutes). Transfer the toast to a plate; season with kosher salt and pepper. Set the toast aside and turn off the heat.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, and garlic until totally combined. Season with a big pinch of kosher salt and lots of pepper (basically just grind until your arm gets tired).
- In the same skillet over medium-low heat, swirl the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Pour in the egg mixture and cook, using a rubber spatula to agitate the mixture a bit and encourage curds to start forming, 1 to 2 minutes. Continue to cook, undisturbed, for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Nestle in the toast pieces, sprinkle with the peas, and scatter the feta and onions evenly over the frittata. Remove from the heat.
- Transfer the frittata to the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until it’s just set at the edges and barely set (still a bit jiggly) in the center.
- Remove the pan from the oven, slide the frittata onto a serving plate (use a heat-safe or offset spatula to help encourage it out), and shower with chile flakes, herbs, and sea salt. Slice into 8 wedges and serve.