Swiss Chard & Parmesan Frittata

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Full disclosure: this recipe began as a last-ditch attempt to use all the Swiss chard that arrived in my CSA box this year. I wasn’t sure how much I actually liked Swiss chard, but cooking it with eggs and cheese seemed like a pretty good way to start. Ta-da! It worked! Even aside from the eggs and cheese, I found that I loved the earthy, fresh flavor of the chard. The salty Parmesan (and a little bit of butter) gives the frittata a savory richness without overpowering the chard, and the chard stems slowly sautéed with a thinly sliced onion add a nice subtly sweet note. The result is a dish that tastes both comforting and virtuous – and is totally satisfying for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

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This has quickly become a go-to weeknight dinner for me. As someone who has been known to eat scrambled eggs or a bowl of oatmeal for dinner left to her own devices, this is an easy way to elevate a lazy breakfast-for-dinner into something worth making for friends.

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Now, a frittata is not hard to make, but it can take a few tries to get it exactly right. I played around with lots of variations- different numbers of eggs, amounts of milk, cooking methods, etc. – to come up with a good, basic frittata recipe. And though you can definitely experiment with the vegetables and cheese you use, I want to share my three most important rules for making a frittata that comes out light, moist, and creamy every time.

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First, cook the Swiss chard (or any other vegetable you’re using) until it has released all of its water before adding the eggs, or you will end up with a very sad, watery frittata. Swiss chard, like spinach, will shrink an incredible amount as it cooks. This is a good thing! If it seems like there is a lot of Swiss chard in the pan,  you still have a ways to go before you’re ready to add the eggs.

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Second, whisk the eggs together very gently. We are going for a soft, creamy texture here. Beating the eggs with a whisk whips air into them, which might seem like it will make the frittata nice and airy. But beware- the eggs will puff up in the oven only to collapse into a dense brick. 😦

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Finally, and I can’t stress this enough – take the frittata out of the oven when it is just cooked. The center may be still be a little bit wet, but don’t worry, the frittata will keep cooking as it sits in the pan. I always check it right at 20 minutes, and only if the frittata feels very wet all the way through do I pop it back for a few more minutes. Just remember – if in doubt, take it out!

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Swiss Chard & Parmesan Frittata


Ingredients

1 small bunch Swiss chard (8 oz.)
1 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, cut in half through the stem and thinly sliced
8 large eggs
1/3 cup whole milk
1½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Rinse the chard under cold running water, and separate the leaves from the center stems. Dice the stems into 1/4 inch pieces and set aside. Roughly chop the leaves and place them in a colander. (Do not pat them dry.)

In a 10-inch cast-iron skillet or ovenproof saute pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat, swirling the pan to coat the bottom and sides. Add the onions, diced chard stems and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tender. (If the onion begins browning, lower the heat.)  Add the leaves in two batches and cook for 8-10 minutes, tossing occasionally, until wilted and tender.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, gently whisk together the eggs, milk, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper until just combined. Stir in the Parmesan. Pour the egg mixture into the sauté pan and stir to combine with the chard and onions.

Bake for 20-22 minutes, until the frittata is just set.  Place an oven mitt on the handle of the pan (it will be HOT!) and use a paring knife to loosen the edges of the frittata from the sides of the pan. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving, then gently slide a spatula underneath the the edges of the frittata to further separate it from the bottom and sides. Carefully slide the frittata onto a serving platter, or serve directly from the pan.


Spaghetti with Sweet Corn Pesto

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This may be the last weekend of the official summer season in the Hamptons, but as far as I’m concerned, summer isn’t over until the corn and tomatoes are gone and pumpkin mania takes over. September is a particularly magical month in the Hamptons, because for a few weeks, the weather seems to be absolutely perfect every day, and there are no packed beaches or traffic jams to accompany it. It’s hands-down my favorite month of year here.  So, in honor of the winding down of the insanity that is the Hamptons in August,  and the warm weeks ahead, I wanted to share my all-time favorite late-summer dinner: Spaghetti with Sweet Corn Pesto.

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What is sweet corn pesto, you ask? Let me explain. It’s a sauce that made the same way as traditional basil pesto, but with a few major differences. Instead of basil and pine nuts, I sauté fresh corn with some smashed garlic and blend it all together with Parmesan and olive oil to make a sauce that’s creamy, subtly sweet and savory.

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I love this pasta for so many reasons. It is a unique and heavenly way to use these superstar summer veggies, and a dish that is as impressive as it is simple. The pasta warms the tomatoes just enough to bring out their sweetness, and the panko crumbs toasted with red pepper flakes add just little bit of heat and crunch to each bite. I love having lot of different textures in the same dish, and this recipe has that nailed.

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And for me, this recipe also means slowing down and getting back in the kitchen after months of grilling and throwing together simple sides and salads. With sweet corn, cherry tomatoes and basil, this recipe is as summery as it gets, but it’s also a hearty and comforting dinner -perfect for early September nights with the first discernible chill in the air. Make this over the long weekend if it’s getting cool where you are, and serve the pasta in big bowls with red wine. I promise you’ll be happy you did.

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Spaghetti with Sweet Corn Pesto

Ingredients

 extra virgin olive oil
3 ½ cups fresh corn kernels (cut from 6 ears of corn)
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed with the flat side of a knife
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup panko (Japanese bread flakes)
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 pound spaghetti
2 pints cherry tomatoes, cut in half through the stem
½ cup fresh basil leaves, packed

Directions

In a large (12-inch) sauté pan, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the corn, the garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the corn is tender.

Remove ½ cup of the corn and set aside. Transfer the rest of the corn and garlic to the bowl of a food processor (or powerful blender such as a Vitamix) and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, make the spicy bread crumbs. Using a paper towel, wipe out the sauté pan you used to cook the corn, and heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the panko, crushed red pepper flakes and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring very often, for 3-5 minutes, until the panko is golden brown. Remove to a small bowl to cool.

Add 1 ½ teaspoons salt and ½ teaspoon pepper to the corn and garlic and process until coarsely pureed. With the food processor running, add 3 tablespoons olive oil and process until smooth. Add the Parmesan and pulse until combined.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook according to the directions on the box. While the pasta cooks, wipe out the sauté pan again. Transfer the corn “pesto”  to the pan, add 1/4 cup of pasta water and bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring until smooth.

When the pasta is finished cooking, use tongs to transfer it to the sauté pan (do not drain!) and toss it with the sauce. Add the cherry tomatoes and reserved corn and toss again. Sprinkle a thin layer of panko crumbs over the pasta, tear the basil leaves into pieces, and scatter half of them over the pasta.  Serve immediately with remaining panko and basil on the side.