Personal Broccoli Parm Frittata
As you may or may not know, yours truly did a stint in gay Paris from spring 2010 through fall 2011.
Prior to the big move, my friends and family asked me a lot of questions. “Do you speak French?” Yes, of course!! I’ve been taking it since, like, 7th grade. I’m practically fluent. “Do you have any friends there?” No, but I’m sure I’ll make lots. I’m going to wear red lipstick! “Do you know the city at all?” I’ll get some maps. (This was pre-smartphones…) “Aren’t you nervous to move to a foreign city alone?!” Dear God, I wasn’t, but I sure as shit am now!!
Looking back, said friends and family were (probably) not asking these questions to annoy me, but rather trying to prepare me for the difficulties of choosing to move to a foreign city solo. And it was difficult.
As it turns out, one gets kinda lonely when they have a grand total of zero friends and no real context for meeting people. I got lost all day everyday for the first 2 years months, and much to my dismay, I realized I did not, in fact, speak fluent French. Merde.
I spent my first few weeks in Paris wandering the city by day and submerging the top or bottom third of my body in a miniature bathtub by night. I watched a lot of Arrested Development and ate mostly scrambled eggs and Haribo on my pullout couch. It was extremely glamorous.
And then one day—I can’t remember exactly when or why—I donned my finest red lipstick and committed myself to fancy solo dating. I would pop into cute cafés and restaurants that I passed at lunch or dinner, request a table for one, and treat myself to a leisurely meal, a glass or three of wine, and simply enjoy my own company. Sometimes I’d bring a book (usually a French version of Harry Potter which I was using to increase my “fluency”) but usually, I’d just hang. It was quite fabulous and, I like to think, character building. [Cue Destiny’s Child Independent Women.]
I tried to mix up my personal date spots, but there were a few places in my hood that I favored. One was an adorable little brasserie called Café Charlot, where I’d sit in the window and order their signature omelette filled with tomato sauce and mozzarella and served over greens. It was light yet satisfying, and the flavors were surprisingly explosive. 8 years later, that omelette still holds a special place in my heart.
I may no longer live in Paris, but I still treat myself to plenty of solo dates. These days they tend to take place at my kitchen island in a groutfit, but whatever. It’s nice to sit myself down, put on some Dawson’s Creek tunes and make myself something simple, healthy, and delicious, like this Personal Broccoli Parm Frittata inspired by the Café Charlot masterpiece mentioned above.
I tend to favor frittatas over omelettes for the sake of ease (no flipping/rolling necessary), and this one’s a winner, friends. Loaded with greens (always), spread generously with marinara, and topped with bubbling mozzarella, Parmesan, and crispy bread crumbs, it’s essentially an eggy—and eggstremely delicious (had to)—personal pizza. Better still, it couldn’t be easier. The whole shebang comes together in about 15 minutes from start to finish. For real.
This frittata works equally well for breakfast, lunch or dinner (just add red wine), and it can easily be modified based on the veggies and cheeses you happen to have on hand. It’s ideal for those in the cooking for one camp, but should you wish to share the magic with others, the recipe is easily doubled, and you could even scale it to make a 12-egg frittata for a crowd. Serve with a sliced crusty baguette and a big arugula salad, and boom. BRUNCH.
Here’s to solo dates (and superfast meals), mes amis.
Superfast Broccoli Parm Frittata (Serves 1)
1½ teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup finely chopped broccoli florets
Crushed red pepper
1 cup baby spinach (baby kale or arugula is also great)
2 large eggs, beaten
1/3 cup marinara sauce (I like Rao’s.)
2 tablespoons shredded part-skim mozzarella
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons whole-wheat Panko bread crumbs (optional)
-I like to start by toasting the optional bread crumbs. Some may consider this an unnecessary step, but I believe in the little things. Just add the bread crumbs to a small (5-inch) nonstick skillet. Warm over medium heat, shaking the pan occasionally, until they darken a few shades in color. Transfer to a small bowl and briefly set aside.
-Return the skillet to a stove and add the olive oil. When hot, add the broccoli and a pinch of salt and crushed red pepper and cook for about 3 minutes until bright green and crisp-tender. (I like to brown my broccoli a little bit, but you do you.)
-Add the spinach and cook for about a minute just until wilted.
-Pre-heat the broiler.
-Pour in the eggs and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 2-3 minutes just until the eggs are beginning to set.
-Place the skillet under the broiler until the eggs are set. This should take about 1 to 2 minutes depending on the strength of your broiler.
-Spread the tomato sauce on top of the frittata. Sprinkle with the mozzarella and Parmesan and top with the bread crumbs (if using).
-Place the skillet back under the broiler for a minute or so until the cheese is melted and bubbling.
-Loosen the frittata with a spatula and slide it onto a plate. Serve warm. If you have a little fresh basil on hand, by all means, use it.
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