A frittata is like a pancake filled with vegetables or a quiche without the crust. I make frittata when pressed for time on a busy weeknight, using up the vegetables available in my kitchen at the same time. On just one of those kinds of days, I discovered that oven-baked fennel frittata topped with wild spinach salad makes a straightforward and satisfying dinner
- 6 fresh organic eggs
- 100 grams of ricotta
- 50 grams of aged Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- one large fennel bulb
- freshly grated nutmeg
- a pinch of sea salt
- a small handful of flat leaf parsley
- three handfuls of wild spinach or about 250 grams
- two tablespoons or 40 grams of extra virgin olive oil
- five grams of fennel seeds
- sea salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Choose a tart pan with a loose bottom large enough to contain all the ingredients. Cut a circle of parchment paper to fit the pan, including its edges.
Break the eggs with the fresh ricotta into a mixing bowl and whisk them lightly with a fork. Stir in freshly grated nutmeg and a pinch of sea salt. Wash the fennel bulb. Cut the dark green stalks as well as the root away from the bulb, peeling away the thick outer layer. Save the pale green fennel leaves and slice the bulb in half lengthwise. Lay the cut side down on a cutting board, and slice each fennel half lengthwise into paper-thin slices. This may need some patience, but the thinner the fennel slices, the nicer the taste.
Wash and dry the flat leaf parsley, mincing both the stems as well as the leaves. Roughly tear the fresh green fennel leaves and chop the smaller stems into a fine dice. Grate the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese with a coarse grater Layer the sliced fennel in the tart pan, sprinkling the grated Parmigiano Reggiano, the parsley and fennel leaves and stalks over the top. Pour the egg-ricotta mixture in the tart pan place it in the oven. Bake the frittata in 30 minutes to a light golden brown. If the frittata isn’t set, put it back in the oven until it is firm, but soft to the touch in the middle.
Meanwhile wash the wild spinach thoroughly in cold water. Blanch it one minute in a pan of boiled water. Drain the spinach in a colander and allow it to cool. Crush the fennel seeds in a pestle and mortar. Mix the crushed fennel with the extra virgin olive oil, adding sea salt and pepper to taste. Squeeze the cooled spinach to get rid of excess liquid and chop it into a coarse salad. Toss the spinach with the olive oil dressing in a bowl.
Top the baked fennel frittata with the bright green spinach salad and serve.
♦ Suggested combinations
Serve the frittata with warm potatoes dressed with lemon juice, a clove of garlic, a spoon of fine Dijon mustard and black pepper to complete a perfectly easy meal. Fennel frittata works well as an antipasto combined with grilled parsnips.
Substitute ricotta for an equal amount of unsweetened almond or coconut milk. Parmigiano cheese can be replaced by any aged local cheese. Aged cheese can be replaced by an equal amount of roasted and finely ground almonds or pine nuts.