One of our never-fail meals is a simple frittata, usually paired with a light salad-- and this Gruyere and herb pasta frittata is one of our favorites. It's quick and easy, which is perfect for a "Plan B" weeknight dinner after an unusually exhausting day (you know those meals: "I'm too tired to go through with Plan A, what can we do instead?"). But honestly, even though it's such a low-effort doodle to throw together, one of the reasons I love it so much is how elegant the final product is.
Yes, any frittata can be both Cozy and Classy.
I have a deep abiding love for things that simultaneously check off two specific categories: Comfortable and Elegant. Things that perfectly straddle the line between utilitarian usefulness and thoughtful aesthetic design. Stunning glassware that is also dishwasher safe? Yes please. Shoes that can go from weekend errands to date night, rain or shine? Perfection. Or, this cheesy and delicious frittata: a meal that is a relief in its ease of prep and comforting flavors, but still elegant enough for a celebratory dinner party.
Fun Fact: did you know that in Italian "fare una frittata" colloquially means "to make a mess?" If you want to say, "Oh no, I made a mess!" say, "Ho fatto una frittata!" If someone else made the mess... "Hai fatto proprio una bella frittata!" You made quite the mess! If you're feeling especially feisty, here's a quick video that will help you properly gesticulate like an Italian, too! According to Martina, you way also want to add a well-placed "oooh!"
Perfect frittata texture is easy to achieve...
While there are many ways to make a frittata, I generally prefer starting stove-top and ending with a gentle bake in the oven.
Pre-cooking your ingredients before mixing with the egg and grated cheese lowers the ingredients' water content, helping to maintain a creamy and cohesive final texture. Whatever the ingredients you're using, steps like sweating onions, wilting spinach, cooking meat, etc are all important steps before adding to your eggs.
While you can add everything to a cold skillet and simply bake until set, that takes too long for me. Adding directly to a hot skillet and folding the mixture while the egg begins to set ensures a relatively even level of doneness from edge to center. Stop just before all the egg is cooked, then top with more cheese and slide it into the oven. The remaining uncooked egg will bind everything together as it bakes, so you'll have a perfectly sliceable texture.
Nutty cheese, fresh herbs, and a satisfying noodle chew: How can you say no?
Pasta frittata is especially satisfying because of the springy chew from the noodles. I particularly love the swirls and twirls of longer pastas like spaghetti or linguini, but shorter noodles bring their own delightfully squidgy texture to the mix. Pick what you have on hand. This is an especially perfect opportunity to get rid of any partly-used boxes of pasta, like after cooking recipes that call for only 12oz of your 16oz box (I hate that).
Technically any cheese will do, which makes free-styling a frittata exceptionally fun (Mmm, cheese...). But for this set of ingredients I particularly love the nutty, ever-so-slightly grassy flavor of Gruyere. Paired with a generous amount of fresh herbs and a warming hint of nutmeg, this could be a great porch meal, or a cozy "après-ski" snack.
Notes for Success:
Make sure your nonstick skillet is oven-safe to 350°F. If it isn't, you can finish the frittata on the stove over low heat, covered, until the center is completely set. If your skillet is old or at all scratched or flaking, ditch it. Not only will your frittata stick, but that pan is probably toxic.
Also, make sure your skillet is properly pre-heated before adding the egg and pasta mixture. The eggs will begin cooking right away, turning into large, silky curds. As you gently fold you'll be lifting the cooked curds up from the bottom and allowing the uncooked egg to flow down to meet the hot pan. This helps to minimize the amount of completely raw egg in the mix, resulting in a faster and more even set.
Recipe: Gruyere and Herb Pasta Frittata
- 4 ounces spaghetti, bucatini, or linguini broken in half
- 8 large eggs
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 3 ounces (¾ cup) shredded Gruyere or Comte, divided
- 1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, minced
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 medium leek, white and light green parts, halved, well-rinsed and thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
- Preheat your oven to 350°F with a rack adjusted to the upper-middle position.
- Step 1Cook your pasta in well-salted boiling water until al dente, usually 1-2 minutes less than indicated on the package. Drain, rinse under cold water to stop the cooking, then drain well again. While the pasta cooks, in a large bowl, whisk the eggs with the nutmeg, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Stir ½ cup of the cheese, the parsley, and the thyme. Once drained and cooled, mix in the pasta and set aside.
- Step 2In an oven-safe 10-inch nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium until shimmering. Stir in the leek and ½ teaspoon salt. Cooking, stirring occasionally, until very soft and just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly before stirring the leeks into the egg-pasta mixture.
- Step 3To the same skillet, add the remaining oil and heat over medium-high until shimmering. Pour in the egg-pasta mixture. Fold and stir gently with a silicone spatula, scraping the sides of the pan and lifting the mixture to allow uncooked egg to flow to the bottom of the pan. After about 1 minute, most of the egg should have thickened and begun to set. Smooth the top of the frittata, then let cook undisturbed until the bottom is golden brown, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and transfer to the oven. Bake until the eggs are set in the center, 10 to 15 minutes.
- Step 4Let cool for about 5 minutes, then run a silicone spatula around the edge and underneath to help loosen the frittata. Slide onto a serving plate before cutting into wedges, so as to not damage your nonstick pan.