Much Virtue in Herbs, little in Men.
~Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac

Time to make hay while the herb sun shines.

Revisiting the frittata (see Frittata—Veloce e Frugale, 01.23.09) is a natural given my egg worship—reaching almost pentecostal fervor—coupled with the summer gardens and local markets brimming with fresh herbs.

My adoration of cheese could be described as decidedly catholic. Here, the object of my affection is fontina, a semi-soft cow’s milk cheese, which comes from the Val d’Aosta region in the Italian Alps near the borders of France and Switzerland. Dense, smooth and slightly elastic, Fontina has a straw-colored interior with minute round holes and a rich, almost sweet, earthy nuttiness. It melts gracefully.


1 1/2 T extra virgin olive oil

8 large organic, free range eggs
Dollop of heavy whipping cream
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Trace pinch of cayenne pepper

1/2 C fresh parsley leaves
1/2 C fresh basil leaves
1/2 C fresh arugula leaves, cut into ribbons
1 T fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 T fresh sage leaves, chopped

1/3 C fontina Val d’Aosta, freshly grated
1 C parmigianno-reggiano, freshly grated and divided in two equal parts

Preheat the broiler.

Crack the eggs into a large bowl, add the cream, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper; then beat lightly with a wire whisk. Add the herbs and half the parmigiano-reggiano, then whisk some further to combine those ingredients.

In a heavy 9″ ovenproof non-stick omelet pan or skillet, heat the oil over moderate heat, swirling to coat the bottom and sides evenly. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the frittata mixture. Reduce the heat to low and cook slowly, stirring the top part of the mixture, but allowing the bottom to set until the egg mixture has begun to form small curds and the frittata is browning on the bottom (4-5 minutes). With a spatula, gently loosen the the frittata from the edges of the pan. Sprinkle with the remaining parmigianno-reggiano and the fontina.

Transfer the skillet to the broiler, placing it about 5″-6″ from the heating element, and broil until the frittata browns lightly on top. It will puff up and become firm in about 3-4 minutes, but watch carefully as ovens differ. However, take care to not open the oven too often during the process as the resulting drop in temperature affects the cooking process.

Remove the pan from the broiler, give it a slight fresh grating of parmiggiano-reggiano, and let it cool for at least couple of minutes, allowing it to set. Next, either slide or preferably invert the frittata onto a flat plate.