Nan's Frittata

MenanmomEvery Friday after school, my mom and I delivered groceries to my grandmother in her little apartment. (More about her here). We arrived at her front door, arms heavy with Stop n' Shop bags, and would ring the bell with a free elbow.

Invariably, I would complain about how long it was taking her. (I swear, it took her 5 minutes to walk the 10 feet from her recliner to the front door). And invariably, we would hear her voice from within, “Aspette! Aspette!” (Wait! Wait!).

With my arms completely numb by this point, she would finally let us in and exclaim: “Oooohh, I’m so glad you came! I just made a nice fri—taaa—taa. You’ll have some.” She said it every time as if she didn’t expect us.

Though we ate frittata often at home, I associate it most with Spring and with Nan; Fridays during Lent we would abstain from meat, so she always made a simple vegetable frittata, which was waiting for us when we arrived.


On a typical New England March day (rainy and raw), we couldn’t wait to get inside her toasty warm apartment where the thermostat was always set at 78 degrees.

Her cramped apartment exuded comfort: as a girl, I loved the way every nook and cranny was filled with furniture and heirlooms and the way the smell of baked goods and coffee filled the rooms.

It was so quiet that I would just sit crouched on her sofa in the few beams of light from the late afternoon sun and listen to the ticking of her grandfather clock. After filling ourselves on frittata, my grandmother (and oftentimes my mother and I!) would fall asleep.

Frittata is really nothing more than eggs with vegetables, cheeses, or meats cooked into it. Yet, made the right way, it is oh-so-satisfying. Of the countless delicious meals my grandmother made, my mother still says her frittatas were the best. They were always simple: potato and onion, sausage and pepper, or spinach and Parmesan.

Invariably, we would ask her: “But Nan, what do you do? Nobody makes frittata like you.” To which she would shrug her shoulders, throw her hand in the air, and reply,“What? What do I do? It’s frittata,” then smile to herself. She loved the compliment, and we knew it.

Nan’s Potato, Pepper, and Onion Frittata

1-2 teaspoon olive oil
1 small potato, diced
1 small onion or shallot
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
5 eggs (Egg Beaters or whites only are also fine)
A handful of fresh basil, thinly sliced
A handful of fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
A few shakes of crushed red pepper
A few dashes of salt

Over medium-low heat, add olive oil to an 8-inch non-stick skillet; and potatoes and sauté until golden brown, about 5-7 min. Add onions; cook another 2-3 minutes. Add red bell pepper strips; cook another 2-3 minutes.

Meanwhile, beat the eggs in a small bowl; add fresh basil, parsley, cheese, salt, and red pepper. Pour the egg mixture into the skillet. With a fork, gently move the egg mixture from side to side as it begins to cook to ensure that it cooks evenly. Do this until the eggs start to solidify and a crust begins to form around the edges. This takes about 5-8 minutes. Give the pan handle a jiggle, and when the eggs appear set, remove the pan from the stovetop and place under the broiler.

Broil for 3-4 minutes, until the top begins to puff up and turn a golden brown. Keep a close eye on it so it doesn’t burn. Once nicely browned, let cool for a couple of minutes before slicing. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Makes 2 large or 4 small servings.