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Sunday Frittata with Frizzled Leeks



I began making frittatas regularly when our family transitioned from the pancakes-or-waffles-every -weekend phase into more "grown- up" breakfasts. As in much of my cooking, I believe I first learned to make a frittata from Julia Child, in one of her books or her television shows.

You can whip up a frittata for any meal: for a weekend breakfast, or with a green salad for lunch, or supper. The frizzled leeks are inspired by a dish served at Union Square Café in its early years. It was the first time I saw the word "frizzled." "Fun word," I thought, and asked Danny Meyer where it came from. "My grandmother. Louise Meyer used to serve mashed potatoes with fried onions on top," he said. "When we opened Union Square Café in 1985, we substituted rutabaga for the potatoes, and leeks for the onions. That became our 'Mashed Turnips with Frizzled Leeks.'

To avoid using the word 'fried,' I landed upon 'frizzled.' After that, frizzled leeks found their way onto everything from mashed potatoes to scallops, an omelette, red snapper, and just about everything except for ice cream."

If you don’t have leeks, then thinly sliced onions, pan-roasted asparagus tips, and crisped bacon all work fine. Concerning culinary substitution, I think of the Russian proverb that my grandpa Jan would trot out about many things in life: "If no fish, then lobster will do." Apparently, lobster prices under the czar were less steep than they are in present-day America, but I took his point. 

As I noted earlier, Parmesan cheese has a lot of umami, which contributes to the high FPC of this recipe, especially when I top the finished frittata with some cherry tomatoes charred at high heat and pepped up with crushed red- pepper flakes.

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  • 2 leeks, halved, cut lengthwise into strips no wider than a strand of spaghetti, and very well rinsed to remove all grit
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 8-10 eggs, lightly whisked
  • 1/2 Cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Freshly ground black pepper and coarse sea salt, to taste


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In an ovenproof skillet, sauté the leeks in 2 tablespoons olive oil over very low heat (just the hint of a sizzling sound) for about 10-15 minutes until crispy and golden brown. Remove from skillet and set aside.


In the same ovenproof skillet, add remaining olive oil and heat for 30 seconds. Pour in whisked eggs. Adjust heat to low (just above simmer), and let the eggs begin to set, undisturbed for 1 minute.


Remove skillet from stove, and place in the top third of the oven. After 3 or 4 minutes, check to see how cooked the eggs are. They should still be slightly runny in the middle.


Taking a small handful at a time, distribute the leeks over the eggs and continue to cook.
After 2 more minutes, turn the oven to broil setting. Sprinkle the grated cheese over the entire surface of the eggs. Broil for 1-2 minutes. The frittata will puff up, and the edges should be golden brown.


Season with black pepper and salt. Cut into pie-like wedges, and serve.