The Underappreciated Gloriousness of the Frittata

The go-to for Kate Bittman and Sam Irby could not be easier

Thanks for visiting The Bittman Project, a place where food is everything (or pretty close).


Half a red onion, one very wrinkly potato, a couple withered red peppers, gouda with the penicillin cut off, shaved old corn. Photo and caption: Sam Irby

Around two years ago, I wrote — what felt like it then and what really feels that way now — an extremely embarrassing love letter to Samantha Irby. (Dear Samantha, You are the absolute best.) Her books made me laugh out loud in a way that very few books do (especially we are never meeting in real life, which, joke’s on her, she and I DID), and I had happened upon her email address (mwahahahaha), so I thought, eff it. She wrote back (!!!) and, to make a sublime long story short, we became friends. 

We have bonded over many things, some unmentionable and some totally benign. There is at least one thing that we are completely aligned on, though, and that is the frittata. It’s THE go-to for us: what we make when we truly cannot imagine cooking and when we just feel like the medley of whatever we have in our fridges will go exceptionally well with eggs. 

We had a pretty involved text conversation about frittatas over the last week. I’m putting some highlights below, plus some other frittata-related goodies, in case you want to join our camp. 

KB: Can we text about frittatas a little and then I’ll publish it? Since we’re sort of the frittata queens of the world?

SI: YEAH LET’S DO IT BABE

(I asked Sam if she had some pictures of recent frittatas; she sent some over and when I asked if she remembered what was in them, she said “yeah, meat and green shit.” Don’t worry – I got some specifics out of her; just keep reading.)

Post-Thanksgiving garbage frittata: potatoes that weren't beautiful enough for the main event, shallots that had green alien tentacles growing out of them, magic mushrooms, old Swiss cheese, and ham I had to snatch from the jaws of a cat. Photo and caption: Sam Irby

KB: Lemme ask you this: Do you remember who taught you the magic of it all? I can’t remember and I want to hug that person because it is the best option for barely cooking.

SI: i wanna say jane magazine???? REMEMBER THEM??????????

(A dramatic pause in which we talk about the Teen Vogue drama, Substack – we’re both on here! – and Sam’s Covid vaccine.)

SI: ok so it’s either jane magazine or real simple, but i’m pretty sure it’s jane. 

and there was an article about cleaning out your fridge and throwing everything in a pan with eggs

and making a fancy frittata out of basically..............compost?????

and i was hooked

A salvaged onion that was growing new onion parts, shriveled potatoes, a watery green pepper, frozen Thanksgiving ham, Zingerman’s pimento cheese I had to scrape from the bottom of the jar, and eggs from the chickens that live down the road. Photo and caption: Sam Irby

KB: So that was a long-ass time ago! And you’ve been doing it since. Do you do a fridge deep dive or do you plan, ever? I fall into the former camp. I used to plan which seems crazy now

SI: i like to do a little planning so i know what i’m making won’t be gross?

like figuring out what cheese stumps we have before i start cooking

but i try not to shop specifically for frittata ingredients

like that’s not the point!

KB: Have you ever had a huge fail? I can’t remember if I did. I did a beet and blue cheese once that was a little weird but I liked it

SI: ew yuck

never a true fail but i did make one with sweet potatoes that were a little bit undercooked 🥴🥴

it was for a party

i played it off like it was intentional bc i’m good at a pivot

LOL MY CRUNCHY FRITTATA

KB: Ooofff I don’t know how you play off undercooked sweet potatoes. 

Sweet potatoes are best over cooked

Ok can you remember your fav combo?

My thing is breadcrumbs on top. I do it almost every time

SI: fave: poblano, mushroom, sharp cheddar, onion, ham

🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾

oh also corn

loooooove corn in my frittatas

Extremely questionable eggs, new potatoes that my lady grew (!) from old ones that sprouted in the pantry, mushrooms and a poblano from the farm, wilted spinach, green onions leftover from book club, dusty oregano, queso blanco from ????, and Cholula to cover it all up if it actually tastes bad! Photo and caption: Sam Irby

KB: That sounds so good. You roast the poblano first or no?

Corn is really good because it adds that sweet

SI: i cook it with the onions

in butter

and yeahhhh that shaved corn crunch is my shit!

KB: I have another question. Do you ever spell it right? i can never remember if the two Ts are first or second

SI: no! i rely on autocorrect!!

So: If you want to casually start making frittatas all the time – if you don’t already, of course – here’s a starter recipe, below. As far as add-ins go: It seems like Sam and I both sorta check our fridges out a little to plan, but neither of us buy specific ingredients. Here are some potential add-ins:

  • Homemade oven french fries

  • Shredded potato/other root vegetables, cooked in a pan first and then added in

  • Blue cheese, goat cheese, mozzarella, cheddar, gruyere

  • Bread crumbs on top

  • Shredded parmesan on top

  • Blanched or roasted broccoli or cauliflower

  • Blanched or pan-cooked broccoli rabe

  • Chopped steamed spinach or chard, mixed with a dash lemon juice and a pinch freshly grated nutmeg or sautéed in olive oil with minced garlic

  • Sautéed onion, fresh tomato, and basil

  • Roasted potatoes or sweet potato

  • Leftover mashed potatoes 

  • Fresh tomatoes

  • Caramelized onions and blue cheese (or just softened onions, solo)

  • Chopped or grated and quickly sautéed zucchini

  • Sautéed Mushrooms

  • Asparagus or another green vegetable, goat cheese, and basil

  • Chopped or crumbled crisp bacon mixed with pan-fried apple and onion slices

  • Minced salami or ham, cooked crumbled sausage, flaked cooked or smoked fish

  • Your favorite herbs

The list goes on. Just look inside your refrigerator and imagine whatever you have in there in an “egg pizza” (as my almost-five-year-old calls it). If you can picture it, it’ll probably work. (I also recommend using as much chile crisp as you’d like on top, a la Holly; I recently became acquainted with oo’mämē and I’ve been putting it on everything possible.) Let us know what you come up with. 


Cheese Frittata

Makes: 4 servings
Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil 

  • 1/2 onion, sliced

  • Salt and pepper

  • 6 to 8 eggs

  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Instructions

1. Heat the oven to 350°F or turn on the broiler. Put 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add the onion and cook, sprinkling with salt and pepper, until soft, about 5 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, beat the eggs in a bowl with some salt and pepper until the yolks and whites are just combined. Pour the eggs over the onions, using a spoon if necessary to evenly distribute them. Sprinkle the cheese over the top and cook, undisturbed, until the eggs are barely set, 5 to 10 minutes.

3. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook until the edges brown and puff but the center is still jiggly, about 5 minutes, or put it under the broiler for just a minute or 2. Cut into wedges or squares and serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

Recipe from How to Cook Everything: Completely Revised Twentieth Anniversary Edition

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