Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Mini Herb Frittata with Spinach Salad.

Thank you, so much, Jane Austen lovers! Thanks for all of the comments and emails yesterday! I promise to get back to her very shortly--in fact, I was up most of the night, with a gazillion ideas floating around in my head about all of the lovely Jane Austen discussions we are going to have here. :)

But today, since I promised you randomness, I am going to talk about one of my other loves: food. Especially breakfast food, and especially eggs. Yum! I could eat them every day. Bonus: Eggs have now been added back to the very good-for-you food list (after a few decades in exile on the bad-for-you food list). Whew. Thank goodness. :-)

For my birthday, my sweet sister-in-law gifted me with two mini cast iron servers. They are absolutely adorable, and being cast iron, are my favorite kind of dish. I love cast iron and use it all the time. It is so versatile--use it on the stove, in the oven, even on the campfire--and it browns, bakes, fries, and grills everything you put on it to perfection.

Now, you don't have to have cast iron to make this frittata.  You can put this in any baking dish--small pyrex dishes, even a skillet or pie plate. You'll just need to adjust the cooking times based on how large your dish is and many eggs you use. Obviously this can be scaled up to feed as many as you want. But today, since it is just me, I'm going to give you the mini-version.

Don't be afraid of that fancy-sounding word, frittata. It's just the Italian way to make a really, really easy omelet. And who can argue with 'easy' and 'Italian', right?

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Put your cast iron pan in the oven to preheat. Note: If you don't have cast iron, don't preheat the baking dish. Just the oven. I think that this step--preheating the cast iron--really makes the recipe. I seriously think you should go out and get a cast iron skillet. But if you can't, it will still taste delicious. I promise. :)

Now, the eggs.

I know, I know, there's only one egg in the picture. It's for the sake of art. :)

Step 2: Whisk two eggs in a bowl, with salt and pepper, to taste. Then whisk in about a tablespoon (or less, if you want to be healthier) of crème fraîche and a handful of feta cheese.  And no, that's not feta in the picture. I only had Gruyere, so I used that instead.

Ok, so, you say, "What is crème fraîche? Do I really have to put in some fancy French ingredient???"

One question at a time, please... :)

Crème fraîche is essentially a kind of French sour cream. Except it's not sour cream. It's sour, but  much less so than our sour cream and not the same kind of sour. And it's creamy, but more substantial than heavy cream. It is fabulous. If you can find it, (which can be difficult in the U.S.--my grocery store, Tom Thumb, stocks it once every couple of months), you can use it for everything from tacos and enchiladas to whipped with a little sugar on fresh fruit for dessert.

No, you don't have to use it. You could use milk, cream, sour cream, ricotta cheese, Mexican crema (which is actually probably the closest in taste, though not texture, to crème fraîche), or any other creamy white milk product. But if you use crème fraîche, your frittata will have both French and Italian influences. Which will be spectacular. Très chic and  molto buono. :)

Now, besides the fact that you just whip these eggs and throw them into the oven, what puts this egg dish over the top, I think, are the fresh herbs. I dream of having a large kitchen herb garden right outside my door, preferably one surrounded by an ancient, crumbling stone wall covered in old-fashioned  pink climbing roses and a gnarled apple tree in the corner.

Or I'd take this one, with the topiaries, please.

However, at the moment I just have a little balcony. Since herbs (usually) grow well in pots, I try to grow as many as possible. Right now there's a dying rosemary bush and oregano that is completely taking over a few scraggly patches of thyme.  I will be working on that soon. But that's another post. :-)

As with most egg dishes, it really doesn't matter what kind of herbs you use--just throw in everything that you have.  And if you're like me and sometimes buy a whole package or chives or basil, because one recipe calls for it, then you use a couple of sprigs and leave nearly the entire package of fresh herbs to languish in the back of your refrigerator....well, here's their chance to shine!

Today, I used rosemary, chives, oregano and flat-leaf (or Italian) parsley. Just a note on parsley: I almost always keep a large bundle of flat-leaf parsley in the fridge. It has a bright, fresh, slightly bitter flavor that is perfect for perking up richly-flavored dishes, such as eggs, stews, pasta and rich cheesy, buttery casseroles.

Also, keep in mind the amounts above do not represent what I put into the eggs. I decided to value beauty over usefulness today. So you get a picture of artfully arranged herbs on a white plate because they are prettier that way.

Pretty herbs. Not very useful. (just kidding!)

Step 3: Wash and roughly chop the fresh herbs. Don't worry about amounts. Just chop up what you think looks good and throw them into the eggs.

Here's what mine looked like, without the parsley. I forgot to take a picture before I threw the parsley in. Make sure that you chop up the rosemary very finely. It is a little bit woodier and tastes better in the end if the pieces are not so large.

That's better. All of the herbs, together at last. Give them a couple of good whisks, and you're almost ready to go.

Step 4: Take the preheated dish out of the oven and put a small pat of butter in it. It will sizzle delightfully. Or, if not using cast iron, lightly spray your baking dish with oil. Then pour the egg mixture into the dish.

Step 5: Put the eggs in the oven, then lower the temperature to 350 degrees. Bake about 15 minutes for a two egg frittata, and about 7-10 minutes for a one egg frittata, or until eggs are set.  Remove from oven.

To serve, drizzle with good quality olive oil, if desired, and serve with a handful of baby spinach or salad greens, tossed lightly in olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt.

You could put your spinach in the frittata, but personally, I don't care for cooked spinach. I love it fresh. Plus I think the crunchy bitterness of the salad greens balances out the creamy richness of the eggs. When I'm in the mood, I sometimes add balsamic vinegar to the greens for more tangy sweetness.


Here's the complete recipe below. Remember that all of the ingredient amounts are very approximate and you can change them up to suite your taste.

Mini Herb Frittata with Spinach Salad

2 eggs
1 Tablespoon crème fraîche
1 Tablespoon feta cheese
3-4 Tablespoons, each, of roughly chopped herbs, such as basil, thyme, oregano, rosemary, parsley or       chives
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 Teaspoon butter
Small handful of baby spinach and/or salad greens
Good quality olive oil 
Sea Salt
Cast iron skillet or mini cast iron server 


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place cast iron dish into the oven to preheat. Let it preheat for at least 10 to 15 minutes. (If using a non-cast iron dish, do not preheat). In a small bowl, whisk eggs, crème fraîche, and cheese. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in chopped herbs.

When dish is preheated, take it out of the oven and swirl butter around bottom and sides. Pour in egg mixture and return to oven. 

Reduce temperature to 350 degrees. Bake 15 minutes or until eggs are set. Bake a one-egg frittata 7-8 minutes and a five or six+ egg frittata 20-25 minutes, or until eggs are set.

Dress salad greens with olive oil and salt. Serve with warm frittata.


  1. Yum yum yum! This looks (and tastes) phenomenal! I've been wondering about creme fraiche lately and just may give it a go now. Love this post!

    1. Yes, I will have to look for that creme stuff, also.