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.


English Muffin Breakfast Bake

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This one’s for my Mom, who loves bacon and eggs with toast more than anyone I know. In fact she even claims it has healing powers. Nervous about getting on a plane? Have a breakfast sandwich. One too many drinks last night? The bread and grease from the bacon will settle your stomach. I am not fully on board with this theory, but she swears by it.

And while she has strict preferences– the toast should be golden brown, the bacon should be very crispy, the eggs should never be “wet” — I still think my Mom would approve of my spin on her favorite breakfast.

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A cross between a soufflé, a frittata, and a bread pudding, this English Muffin Breakfast Bake combines everyday breakfast ingredients to make a brunch masterpiece. (Think eggs, toasted bread, maple-roasted bacon and lots of cheddar cheese.) It’s a little more time consuming than your average egg sandwich, but SO worth it. And I also confirmed, as my Mom claims, that it does wonders after a long night out.

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Besides being delicious and totally over the top, this is also a very practical recipe. The ingredients are all things you can find at any grocery store- a dozen eggs, a pack of English muffins, a pound of bacon, a quart of milk, etc. – and the recipe doesn’t require any special equipment. It’s what I call a great “vacation” recipe- something you can make without your usual kitchen setup (and definitely something to make when you are happily eating lots of  “vacation food.”)

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If you want to double the recipe for a large group, I would recommend making two separate batches (in two baking dishes) rather than using one larger dish or pan. And if you plan on needing a bacon and eggs elixir the morning after, you can assemble this the night before and bake it off in the morning. OR, make it for your Mom this weekend! If she’s anything like mine, she will be very happy you did.

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English Muffin Breakfast Bake


Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 12 slices good-quality, lean bacon
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 6 English muffins, such as Thomas’s
  • 12 large eggs
  • 2 ½ cups whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh chives
  • 6 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated (2 cups, lightly packed)

Directions

Arrange two racks evenly spaced in the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and generously grease the bottom and sides a 9 x 13 x 2-inch baking dish with the butter.

Place an ovenproof baking rack on a sheet pan and place the strips of bacon in a single layer on the rack. (If you don’t have a rack, just place the bacon directly on the sheet pan.) Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the bacon has begun to brown. Remove the pan and carefully brush the strips of bacon with maple syrup. Return the pan to the oven and bake for another 5 minutes, until golden brown. Remove the bacon and allow to drain on a plate lined with a paper towel. When cool enough to handle, roughly chop the bacon and set aside.

Meanwhile, cut the English muffins into 1” cubes. (Do not halve them horizontally as you would normally for the toaster.) Spread the cubes on a sheet pan and bake, with the bacon, for 15 minutes, until lightly browned.

While the bacon and English muffins are in the oven, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt and pepper in large bowl.

To assemble, sprinkle half of the bacon, 1 tablespoon of the chives, and 1 cup of the cheese (in that order) onto the bottom of the baking dish. Add the English muffin cubes on top in one even layer. Carefully pour the egg mixture into the pan, pressing down lightly to make sure all the muffin cubes are moistened. Top with remaining bacon, cheese and chives. Wrap well and refrigerate for at least one hour, or overnight.

Before baking, lower the oven (or set the oven) to 350 degrees. If the dish has been in the refrigerator overnight, let it come to room temperature for 15 minutes before baking. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until puffed and cooked through. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.