Fresh Ideas: Spring frittata

Photo by Helana Brigman -- Start the day with a filling Spring Frittata With Kale, Shallots and Tomatoes. Show caption
Photo by Helana Brigman -- Start the day with a filling Spring Frittata With Kale, Shallots and Tomatoes.

Every morning, I wake up … starving.

I’m not much of a late-night snacker, so when the alarm goes off at 7 a.m., it’s been a while since my last meal and I can feel it. Of course, there’s always coffee, but a strong cup of Joe seldom agrees with my empty stomach. Walking into the kitchen, I fill my coffee pot with water and carefully measure out CC’s breakfast blend before pressing the “on” button.

Then, my stomach starts to protest.

Certainly, I could reach for cereal, grab a banana and give in, but on those occasions when I have friends in town or am planning for a long run, I need more than processed grains to hold me over — I need protein.

Frittatas are a great way to answer a hungry stomach: filling and cheesy, and a warm welcome to the breakfast table when cereal just won’t do. Because most frittatas rely on a heavy dose of eggs, milk and cheese, this one-skillet dish makes an easy way to fill up first thing in the morning without too much of the caloric guilt one might have with high-fat bacon or starchy hash browns.

But what I especially like about frittatas is how easily they can be made in a pinch. When you’re low on ingredients and need to go to the store, simply grab half a dozen eggs, leftover cheese and last night’s vegetables and get to work.

With a little prep and some time in the oven, breakfast frittatas reap big rewards before the coffee pot has had time to finish brewing.

For this recipe, I’ve selected my favorite greens, cheeses and spring vegetables. Whether it’s March or May, I always have eggs on hand, but other ingredients might vary.

It would be harsh to use the term “bottom-feeding” here, but the idea is simple: when selecting ingredients for your frittata, take advantage of what’s already available in your fridge and throw it into your frittata just as you might a gumbo pot. There’s plenty of room to play around — leftover roasted vegetables, neglected greens and excess herbs all have a place in that cast-iron skillet.

In the past, I’ve made frittatas with a combination of roasted broccoli instead of kale, cheddar instead of mozzarella and egg whites for half of the eggs.

Many of my friends reserve frittatas for special occasions. But, while you wait for that coffee to finish, combat hunger with something you’ll be glad you actually ate.

High-protein, low-calorie eggs with your choice of ingredients will keep you fuller longer and offer a serving of vegetables before noon. Now that’s a great way to combat early morning hunger.

Helana Brigman is a food writer, photographer and cookbook author. She can be reached with daily recipes at or via email at