An Authentic Italian Picnic, Part 1 of 5: Mini Frittata Cubes

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Italians’ lives are in tune with the changing seasons. The arrival of spring brings along a feeling of rebirth and makes room for fresh preparations to enjoy warm or cold.

Soups and stews, step aside! When the breeze carries the scent of budding flowers and the sun relieves the hardships of winter, eggs become the symbol of the renewal of life. Baked frittata is quick, versatile, and easy to prepare. It is also one of the most favored and consumed Italian foods during warmer seasons. While this recipe is laden with spring vegetables, it can also be easily customized with seasonality or different taste preferences. For extra crunch, sprinkle some almond slivers on top before baking. Carry the pieces out to guests at your long-awaited picnic or serve at an outdoor Sunday brunch.

Mini Frittata Cubes with Spring Vegetables

Makes about 13 cubes (2- x 2-inch)

Ingredients

1 small leek
2 cups fresh spinach
1 cup peas or asparagus
salt & pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil + 1 teaspoon
a splash of stock (or water)
olive oil or butter, for the casserole
5 eggs
nutmeg
2 tablespoons milk
¼ cup Parmigiano, or other high-quality seasoned cheese, grated

Directions

01. Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C).

02. Wash and trim all vegetables. Remove the outer layer and the top green parts from the leek (scraps that can later be used for vegetable stock), cut in half, then slice finely. If using asparagus, snap the hard stalks off and slice into quarter-inch rounds. Chop the spinach into fine strips.

03. Heat some olive oil in a pan, and add the leek. Cook until leek is translucent—about 5 minutes. Then add all the other vegetables. Season well with salt and pepper. Add a splash of water or stock and let it reduce. Mix well and cook, covered, for about 10 minutes, adding an extra 1 to 2 tablespoons of liquid if the vegetables stick to the pan.

04. Prepare a non-stick baking dish to cook your frittata, and grease it well with either oil or melted butter. Consider that your frittata cubes should be about a half inch tall.

05. In a bowl, beat the eggs with salt, pepper, a good grating of nutmeg, milk, and cheese. Add your cooked vegetables and mix well to incorporate.

06. Pour the mixture into the greased baking dish, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the top is slightly puffed, well-set, and the edges begin to detach from the side and turn light brown. Do not overcook or it will turn rubbery.

07. Pass a knife around the edges to make the frittata detach easily. Then cut into 2- x 2-inch cubes. It will be soft and a little moist. Pack cubes in a plastic storage container for picnicking or brunching.