Thursday, March 6

How to Make a Frittata Like My 99-year-old Italian Grandmother

When I was a kid, Lent never seemed that hard to me. I had to give up something I really loved like Snickers (which I seriously needed to cut back on anyway) and avoid meat on Fridays (which meant eating my grandmother's fri--taaa-taas). Eating Nan's frittatas was not a sacrifice.

Frittata is nothing more than eggs with vegetables, cheeses, or meats cooked into it. Yet, my grandmother's frittatas were always something special -- delicious, healthy, and comforting.

Whether or not you recognize Lent or have an Italian grandmother, there are many reasons why you should know how to make a frittata:
  • They're ridiculously fast and easy to make.
  • They're the perfect meal for the end of the week when you've run out of food. You could put just about anything in a frittata, (though I'd avoid chocolate chips).
  • They're endlessly versatile. Make them with whole eggs, egg whites, or Egg Beaters; add meats, cheeses, or veggies; and eat 'em for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
  • They make great leftovers for tomorrow's lunch. Try some in a sandwich.
  • They're so much fun to say. Come on, you know you want to say it like Nan used to. So in your best Italian grandmother accent and say, "fri--taaa-taa" as if it's the greatest word in the world. I know for Nan, it was right up there with "pizzelle" or her favorite word, "bingo."

Here's how to make a great frittata in 5 easy steps:

1. Saute fillings before adding them to the eggs. This will impart more flavor and ensure that the fillings are thoroughly cooked.
2. Lightly whisk eggs with herbs and seasonings before adding to the pan.
3. Cook frittata in a heavy, flat-bottomed skillet over medium heat.
4. This one is important: Using a fork, gently push the egg mixture from side to side, allowing it to seep to the bottom of the pan. This will ensure that the eggs cook thoroughly.
5. Place the frittata under a broiler to create a puffy, golden brown topping.

Nan hasn't made a frittata in a few years. She is 99 years old and lives in the Alzheimer's unit of a nursing home, but it's like she's here with me every time I make one. Today's frittata combines two of Nan's favorite vegetables: tender asparagus and earthy mushrooms.

When I served it to Jeff, I said in true Nan fashion: "Come on, have a nice piece of frit--aaa--taa with asparagus and mushroonz." For some reason, Nan could never pronounce the final "m" in mushrooms; it always came out as "mushroon," which would inevitably make me laugh, which would inevitably lead to Nan saying, "What? What's so funny?"

I'm sending my Italian asparagus, mushroon, and Parmesan frittata to Maryann of Finding La Dolce Vita and Marie of Proud Italian Cook who are hosting the fabulous Festa Italiana. They'd like you to share your favorite Italian dish with them. I couldn't possibly choose just one favorite Italian dish, but frittatas are right up there with homemade pizza and Sunday gravy and meatballs.

Now, it's time to mangia!

Italian Asparagus, Mushroom, and
Parmesan Frittata

Makes 2 servings.
Print recipe only here.

1-2 teaspoons olive oil
10 asparagus spears, cut into 1-inch slices
1 cup sliced white button mushrooms
6 large eggs (Egg Beaters or whites only are fine)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (divided)
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
A few dashes of salt

Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Boil the asparagus for 2 minutes; drain, then place in a bowl of ice water. Shocking it will maintain its vivid green color. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, beat the eggs in a small bowl with half of the cheese, the fresh parsley, and salt and red pepper.

Add olive oil to an 8-inch non-stick skillet over medium-low heat. Add mushrooms and sauté for 5 minutes or until golden brown; add the asparagus and cook 1 more minute. Pour the egg mixture into the skillet. With a fork, gently move the egg mixture from side to side allowing the egg to seep to the bottom of the pan. Do this for 5-7 minutes, until the eggs start to solidify and a crust begins to form around the edges. Give the pan handle a jiggle, and when the eggs appear nearly set, evenly sprinkle the second half of the cheese over the top of the frittata.

Remove the pan from the stove top and place under the broiler for 4-5 minutes, or until the top begins to puff up and turn golden brown. Keep a close eye on it so it doesn’t burn. Let cool for a couple of minutes before slicing. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Other Nan dishes you might like:
Other vegetarian, Lent-friendly dishes you might like:
PS-Mansi just invited me to send my frittata to her for the 20th round of Weekend Breakfast Blogging created by Nandita. Why not send Mansi your well-balanced breakfasts by March 31st? Everybody knows that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. (My mother taught me well.)

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Suganya said...

You read my mind. My dinner tonight was frittata. Leeks, asparagus and queso fresco.

Mandy said...

the fri-taa-taa has my name all over it! :)

Swati said...

Hi Susan

Its a filling and a very nice dish..Quick n easy as you said it!!

Susan @ SGCC said...

Susan- You're tugging at my heartstrings with this one. Asparagus and mushroom fritatta was my dad's special dish. He used to make it for us every year on Good Friday. It was the only time all year that he ever cooked.

Manggy said...

I'm not an egg-y person but I can see and feel the love in the frittata you prepared :) I'm trying not to enjoy food too much during those special days in Lent-- I try to have fish in the most BLAH way possible, and avoid chocolate and dessert :D

Anonymous said...

I liked fried eggs but somehow frittata has never been my favorite, maybe yhat's because I never had a grandmother making me one ;)
Your frittata looks delicious though.

Gattina Cheung said...

this one is a truely fluffy, soul-warming fri-taaa-taaas! I should go buy a heavy bottom skillet...

Nupur said...

Another lovely post from the food blogga! Thank you for the easy frittata algorithm, Susan. I have yet to make one, but now I have no excuse not to try my hand at making a frittata.

Asha said...

YUM!!! I grill the top for few seconds too. Looks fluffy and perfect!:)

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A gorgeous frittata! Family recipes are the best! It smells of spring...



David Hall said...

Hi Susan

I make my frittata exactly the same as you describe. But I very much doubt they would ever be as good as your grandmothers! And I wouldn't argue either.

David x

Warda said...

Ugh!!! I should have read this recipe yesterday when I used up all my aspargus! But they were delicious roasted with a little bit of parmesan. Thanks for the tio. Now, I know why my fritata turns out dry sometimes ;)

Peter M said...

I like a gal who double-stacks a frittata!

The ingredients are yum and the photo of it in the pan is 'perty'.

Anonymous said...

I remember when I learned to make frittata... I was so pleased with it and to find a new thrifty way to clean out the refrigerator. I am particularly fond of using up roasted vegetables that way. Loved your story!

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Fritta is my favorite fast food, delicious hot, at room temperature and for leftovers. But, no chocolate chips??? Susan, I thought you were more adventurous ... :-)

brandin + kari said...

I have been making frittatas lately for Saturday morning breakfast! I have some leftover I will be trying this recipe:)

Namratha said...

That's a perfect Frittata Susan, love it!

Finla said...

I loved how you wrote to make the perfect Frittata.
Your looks delicious and i love the asperagus and the mushroom combo.
Your nan was a realt cook wansn't she. I remember the Pizzele cookie from your nan

Anonymous said...

Susan, So happy you are joining us for our festa. I love this dish.
And it does speak "grandma".
I like mine as a sandwich on a crusty loaf with ketchup.

oops! Was i supposed to admit that? haha

Anonymous said...

God bless your noni! My Italian grandmother died a few years back, but I feel sometimes like her attempt to assimilate appropriately into American culture caused her to conveniently 'forget' some of her mother's most famous dishes. But, her faves were (like yours) pizzelles, Escarole Wedding Soup ('scarole for short) and her famous Italian-American Sausage and Pepper Sandwiches. Really sweet post. Happy Lent! I want to eat chocolate again!!!
Amy @

Tim Appleton (Applehead) said...

mmm, mmm.

Kalyn Denny said...

What a beautiful post. I think it's wonderful that you're thinking of your grandmother when you make this delicious sounding frittata. I just love frittatas, to me they seem much more interesting than plain old omelettes. The photo is gorgeous!

Deborah said...

I love fritattas, and this one sounds fabulous!

Michelle | Bleeding Espresso said...

Made a frittata this afternoon! Very simple b/c we cleaned out the fridge to make it...suppressata, parmigiano, and parsley.

Shh...we don't do the "no meat on Friday" thing.

Simona Carini said...

Great post, Susan. A wonderful introduction to the beauty and bounty of frittata. I made one with mushrooms just yesterday.

RecipeGirl said...

We like to have frittatas for lunch sometimes. This looks like a good choice!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I didn't have an Italian grandmother, but your Nan's favorite frittata is my favorite, too. I always add some fresh thyme from my garden, which appears at about the same time the asparagus are available at our local farm stand.

Elle said...

Isn't frittata wonderful? Yours looks beautiful with spring asparagus to boot.
Thanks for sharing the story of your grandmother and some of her favorite words :)

Katie Zeller said...

I use to get the snickers anyway, and keep them in a shoebox until after Easter...
That may have defeated the idea...
I love frittatas and often make them for a first course. I'm really jealous of your asparagus... soon we should have it!

Meeta K. Wolff said...

I really enjoy frittatas and find the ingredients you have use fantastic.

Judy@nofearentertaining said...

Oh I love frittatas... I love when a post sparks a memory for me!

Mansi said...

that frittata looks awesome! pls thank your granny from my side for this Susan!:) also, this would be a great addition to the WBB-Balanced Breakfasts event I'm hosting this month, so do send it in if you can!

Gretchen Noelle said...

This looks fabulous! I plan to try something like it soon. Sounds tasty!

Brilynn said...

Just saying frittata is almost the best part, almost...

Wendy said...

That final photo is beautiful!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

suganya-How about we swaps slices?

mandy-Oh, good. :)

swati-You can never have too many quick and easy dishes.

susan-How lovely. I'm so pleased that this elicited happy memories for you.

manggy-I completely understand.

linda-Grandmothers' frittatas always taste better.

gattina-"soul-warming," I like that.

nupur-Thank you so much! I hope you give it a try.

asha-The brown crispy top is my favorite part.

rosa-Asparagus and spring go hand in hand.

david-Mine will never taste as good as Nan's, but that's ok, you know?

warda-I'm glad you found it helpful.

peter-It makes for a prettier picture and much more satisfying bite. ;)

ann-It's a great "clean out the fridge" dish, isn't it? Thanks, I'm glad you liked the story too.

tw-I'm getting more cautious in my old age. ;)

anticiplate-It's delicious for breakfast too. Hope you like it!

namratha-Thanks so much!

happy cook-I always thought (and still do, actually) that nobody could cook as good as she did.

maryann-I'll share a secret with you too--eggs and Heinz ketchup are a marriage made in heaven.

amy-OMG-- sausage and pepper sandwiches were the best! It's the simple dishes that were the most memorable.


kalyn-I really appreciate the kind words.

deborah-It really is, if I must say so. :)

michelle-Your secret is safe with me.

simona-Mushrooms are just so good in frittatas, arent' they?

recipegirl-They make a great lunch.

lydia-Asparagus and thyme are lovely together.

elle-Thanks for the kind words. :)

katiez-In a shoebox? Sneaky. ;)


judy-I love to hear that a post sparks a memory for you too!

mansi-I will! Thanks for mentioning it to me.

gretchen-I hope you do; you won't be disappointed.

brilynn-I agree.

wendy-Thank you!

Anonymous said...

haha you said tata's!

ooohyeah, that looks delicious :) this combination is wonderful - drool - i can just imagine how delicious it was.

Ivy said...

Susan this is a great fritaataaaaaa and a wonderful tribute to your grandmother. It's nice to remember the elderly so that our traditions are kept alive.

Proud Italian Cook said...

Hi Susan, Your photo is stunning, and your entry for our "Festa Italiana" is great, especially with all the wonderful memories attached to it! What a dear Grandmother you have! Thank you!!

Coffee and Vanilla said...

Looks amazing, I have never tried to make frittata yet...

Have a great day Susan,

Cakespy said...

Oh, beautiful recipes! Not only delicious, but rich in history--what a wonderful dish to have growing up (and today!). Thanks for all of the recipes too!!

Deborah Dowd said...

Frittatas are my new favorite fast food- a great way to use leftover bis and pieces in the fridge and even my fussy eater likes them.

Pixie said...

You can't beat a good frittata, especially one taught by your Italian Grandmother!

NiNo said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Susan from Food Blogga said...

aria-That's bad. ;)

ivy-It's so true. They live on in our families and hearts that way.

marie-Many thanks for the kind words. I really enjoyed writing this post, so thank you for the inspiration.

margot-Now you can in 5 easy steps!

cakespy-I'm pleased you liked it.

deborah-I'm so happy to hear that. Fast food can be healthy!

pixie-So true.

Mike of Mike's Table said...

I've been familiar with but somehow never had a fri-taaa-taa. It certainly looks good and easy enough--this might be just the thing to get through the rest of the eggs in the fridge.

Also, just wanted to say thanks to you and your reader for your comment on my blog (regarding the blood oranges)--I appreciate the heads up! :-)

Unknown said...

Frittatas are great. I like the sound of this one with asparagus and mushrooms.

Indonesia Eats said...

I would love to have this for my breakfast

MeloMeals said...

What a lovely tribute to your grandmother... and your pics are fabulous as usual!

Anonymous said...

How wonderful! I have a strong attachment to my Granny's fried chicken & pecan pie. It's a blessing to have family ties to certain food dishes - even better when they look simply delicious! You did your Nan proud.

xoxox Amy

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

This is a dish of course that you can pass down through the generations:D

Joe said...

Hi Susan, My wife (also Susan) and I love frittatas. I also make one with red potatoes, onions & marinated artichokes which I brought into work and my receptionist (100% Italian) said it tasted just like her Nona's. Couldn't ask for a nicer compliment.

Anonymous said...

This looks great! I included you in my blog round-up this for last week at Blog

Julie said...

I inherited the family fritatta pan from my grandmother. It always came with the one strict rule that nothing was ever to be cooked in it other than a fritatta. I love making ftritattas and have finally mastered the art of it.

Unknown said...

havent tried this before, but i think it is doable, thanks for sharing ^^

i am a HUGE fan of snickers...hmm let's say it's an addiction of mine

Susan from Food Blogga said...

mike-You're quite welcome!

kevin-They're great together.

indonesiaeats-I have, it's wonderful!

melody-Aw, thanks, I appreciate it.

familiabencomo-Thank you for your kind words. Fried chicken and pecan pie, huh? You must be from the South, no?


JOMAMA-You're so right. When you're food is compare to an Italian nona's, that is the highest of compliments. Thanks for visiting.

adam-Well, thanks so much!

julie-Ooh, a pan solely for fritattas? How lucky are you? :)

rita-Very doable indeed.

Lori Lynn said...

Looks delicious. I love eggs dishes. Very Spring-y!

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Mmmmmm-- looks delicious!
My husband makes fantastic frittatas --one of his best is amde with leftover spaghetti with ricotta sauce.
Cheers, Pat

Jeanne said...

Oh I love fittata - it's such a great way to use up a variety of stuff and sooooo easy. I really love the flavours in this one - will definitely have to try it. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I tried your recipe tonight. It was so good! Thank you - and thank Grandma!

Unknown said...

I make my frittata just as you describe. I use a wide variety of seasonings both from Tastefully Simple and Pampered Chef. Tonight I used rapini, broccoli tips, and fresh potaoes. My SECRET is my Calphalon double locking fry pan set. The two pans are separate but the handles lock together on one end (almost looking like a dome) Cook the eggs and vegetables until set in the deepest pan Lock the pans together.. Then flip, open the two pans and add cheeses of your choice. Tonight I also sprinkled toasted bread crumbs and parmesanon the top layer. My husband gave me the frittata pan set from Calphalon for Christmas 3 or 4 yrs ago and it has been used almost every weekend for Sunday breakfast. If I have leftover meats, I sometimes make a main dish frittata. I am not 99 yr. old nonna but I make a pretty mean frittata.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

unknown-Thanks for the tip on the pans. I've heard of them but haven't ever owned them. It's good to know!