A few weeks ago, my BFF, Tara, and I volunteered at one of the Ronald McDonald Houses here in the DC area. The volunteering write-up indicated that we would be serving breakfast to the inhabitants, and that it would be a very plain fair. “Scrambled eggs, sausage, pancakes.” I had to talk myself out of the temptation to bring the ingredients for pancakes from scratch. This wasn’t a gourmet brunch group; this would be a make-a-nice-meal-for-people-in-need group. So I signed up to bring bacon and sausage, putting all my fantasies of a fancy brunch to a later date.
Boy, was I wrong. And never so happily so!! As we assembled with our store bought pancake mix and pre-cut fruit, the group leader started explaining how she wanted to really treat the families we were about to feed. She had brought extra toppings to make a myriad of pancakes (yes…I’m fixating on the pancakes. But they turned out extraordinarily!), as well as ingredients to make a frittata she had read about online. My ears perked up VERY quickly. Before I knew the words had come out of my mouth, I had called dibs on the frittata.
Luckily, I’ve made a couple frittatas in my time. When our fearless leader offered to find the recipe, I politely declined and started digging through the cabinets for a pan, a chopping board, small bowls, and a blender.
A quick PA plug. For those who aren’t familiar with the Ronald McDonald House, it provides temporary housing for families with children receiving various hospital care needs, from overnight treatment to extended hospital stays. They relies almost solely on volunteers and contributions to help the families that stay there. While the families can prepare their own food, the Ronald McDonald House tries to line up volunteers to prepare meals for the residents. (Try not to choke up when you think about this…I need a tissue just thinking about it.)
Ok! Past the cheesy part. Pun intended. We had a fantastic group. One of the couples made the pancakes, which included blueberry, chocolate chip, and cinnamon swirl. Another gal made a fruit compote to put on top of the pancakes. A gent claiming no cooking experience made both regular AND cheesy scrambled eggs, to such perfection that all the seasoned cooks were raving about his skill. Eggs are hard to make!! Tara even made crispy and soggy bacon, just so the families could indulge on the style of bacon they would have made at home.
And then my frittata. Not to brag, but one of the dads came and shook my hand. Again, I almost broke out in tears. It was not just that he liked my frittata (although that was a bonus), but just to create a very personalized meal at the beginning of what was probably going to be a long day for all the recipients.
Alright…tearing up too much writing this post. I’m gonna put down my box of Kleenex and just give you the recipe.
Broccoli and Cheddar Frittata
(Vegetarian, Paleo, Gluten-Free)
- 1 medium head of broccoli
- 1 medium shallot (note 1)
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp bacon grease or oil (note 2)
- A pinch of salt
- 1 1/2 cup plus a handful sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 12 medium eggs
- 1/2 cup milk (note 3)
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- Preheat the oven to 425.
- Cut the florets off the broccoli. You can use the stems if you are partial to them, but most people like the ends of this veggie. I do encourage you to save to stems for a broth later. (Maybe I’ll post about this one day…)
- Finely dice the shallot.
- Finely dice the garlic.
- In a small sauce pan, add the bacon grease/oil and turn the burner on to a medium heat. Sauté the garlic, adding the pinch of salt, for 5 minutes, stirring periodically. The overall cook time of the frittata won’t reduce the pungency of the garlic, so we’re cooking off some of the kick.
- While the garlic is cooking, combine the eggs, milk, salt, pepper, and thyme in a blender. Pulse.
- In a medium casserole pan, layer broccoli, shallots, garlic, and cheese.
- Pour the egg mixture over the “dry” ingredients. Sprinkle the last handful of cheese on top if you an extra cheesy effect.
- Put the frittata in the oven for 20-30 minutes (it’s done when you insert a knife in the middle, and it comes out clean).
- If you want a golden crust (not everyone’s preferences. If it’s not, skip to the next step), turn the oven to broil and cook for 3-5 more minutes.
- Remove the frittata. Let it cool for about 10 minutes. Despite how amazing it will smell, you don’t want to burn anyone’s mouth.
- Cut into squares, triangles, or desired shape, and serve.
- You can freeze pieces for consumption later. As usual, I advise defrosting, then warming in the oven at 250 for 10-15 minutes. Or follow your microwave instructions.
Note 1: If you don’t have a shallot, substitute 1/4 cups onion.
Note 2: The taste impact is minimal as to the “fatty substance” you use to cook the garlic. So whatever your dietary needs are, use that.
Note 3: I used whole milk for this particular frittata. The higher the fat content, the fluffier the eggs will be. But honestly, I have used anything within the range of half and half to 2%. Use what you have on hand, or whatever your preference is.