Mother's Day brunch: Frittata recipes

Apr 17, 2008 at 2:47 p.m. ET

Keeping Mom out of the kitchen is a traditional -- and, for Moms, a favorite -- part of Mother's Day. What better way to show her how much you appreciate all she does than by letting her sleep in, while you prepare a sumptuous "thank you" brunch?


Simple and healthy Mother's Day brunch recipes

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) has put together three different takes on the simple but elegant frittata, a classic Italian dish. Essentially an open-faced (and easier-to-make) omelet, the frittata is a perfect all-in-one breakfast to whip up, even if you're still feeling your way around the kitchen.

Tips for making a frittata

"To make a frittata, you simply mix the eggs and veggies together and start cooking, instead of gently folding the veggies into the eggs, as you would if you were making a French omelet," says Karen Collins, RD, AICR Nutrition Advisor. "Omelets need to cook quickly over high heat and must be carefully folded over, so they remain soft inside. Frittatas, on the other hand, cook slowly, over medium heat, until they're firm and set."

Near the end of the cooking process, frittatas are either flipped or placed under a broiler so that both sides turn an eye-catching golden brown. They are served in wedges, like a pizza or a quiche.

Mix it up for Mother's Day

Each of the three frittatas below boasts a different cultural influence, adding a certain touch of sophistication to the humble breakfast tray. We've also made each recipe lighter and healthier by substituting egg whites for some of the eggs, while retaining the dish's traditional richness with a generous amount of vegetables and seasonings.

The most ambitious of the three frittatas is also the most elegant. This Asian-influenced Sesame-Ginger Frittata with Broccoli and Shrimp recipe comes from AICR's New American Plate Cookbook (which, come to think of it, might just make a nice Mother's Day gift). This frittata employs toasted sesame oil and a sauce flavored with ginger and soy to add flavor without adding fat and calories.

Sesame-Ginger Frittata with Broccoli and Shrimp

The American Institute for Cancer ResearchIngredients:
2 cups 1/2-inch pieces of broccoli florets
2 or 3 scallions, trimmed and freshly chopped
1 cup finely chopped red onion
1 cup fresh bean sprouts
5 ounces peeled cooked shrimp, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)
3/4 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 large eggs
4 large egg whites
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon cold water
1 tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup fat-free, reduced sodium chicken broth
Canola oil spray

1. In a medium bowl, combine the broccoli, scallions, onion, bean sprouts, shrimp, sesame oil, and pepper.

2. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, egg whites, and flour for about 2 minutes, until the lumps are almost gone. Pour this over the vegetable mixture, mix well with a fork, and set it aside.

3. Preheat the broiler.

4. In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch into the 1 tablespoon cold water to dissolve and place it near the stove.

5. In a small pan, bring the soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger, sugar and broth to a boil over medium heat. Stir the cornstarch mixture, pour it into the hot liquid, and whisk 1 to 2 minutes, until the sauce is thick and translucent.

6. Coat a large, ovenproof, nonstick skillet with canola oil spray. Heat the skillet over medium-low heat.

7. Stir the egg and vegetable mixture and pour it into the skillet, smoothing the mixture into an even layer.

8. Cook for about 4 minutes, until the eggs are set and the bottom is browned.

9. Place the skillet under the broiler for about 2 minutes, until the top is browned and the center is almost dry.

10. Loosen the frittata from the skillet with a spatula and slide it onto a serving dish. Cut the frittata into quarters and serve with the warm sauce spooned over the wedges.

Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 13g carbohydrates; 2g dietary fiber; 19g protein; 5g total fat (1g saturated fat); 430mg sodium; 168 calories.

Frittata Balsamico

With a simple but satisfying mix of potatoes, onion, eggs and Parmesan cheese, this next recipe is a little closer to the traditional Italian frittata. We've added a splash of balsamic vinegar at the end, which wakes up the frittata's classic flavors with its characteristic mellow sweetness. You'll need to cook the potatoes and onions beforehand, to allow them to soften. This recipe details an easy way to flip the frittata so that the top browns. You can accomplish the same results by simply sliding the frittata under the broiler for 2 minutes, but only if you're using an ovenproof skillet or dutch oven.

2 medium red-skinned potatoes, peeled and halved
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 eggs plus 2 whites
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Cooking oil spray
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, or to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1. Cook the potatoes in water until done, about 20 minutes.

2. In a large, heavy, non-stick skillet, stir the onion slices to separate them into individual rings. Place the pan over medium-high heat, cover tightly, and cook the onions until they wilt and stew in their juices, about 5 minutes. Uncover and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly colored.

3. Transfer the onions to a large bowl and let cool slightly. Wipe out pan.

4. Drain the cooked potatoes well and cut them into small cubes. Add them to the onions.

5. In a large bowl, beat together the eggs and egg whites until well blended.

6. Mix in the onion-potato mixture.

7. Mix in the cheese, salt and pepper until well combined.

8. Use a cooking oil spray to generously coat the saucepan you just used for the onions. Set the pan over medium-high heat and heat until hot.

9. Pour in the egg mixture, making sure the onions and potatoes are evenly distributed in pan. As the eggs set, keep lifting the edges with a spatula or mixing spoon, tilting the pan so any liquid flows to the edges. Continue cooking over medium heat until set, 12 to 15 minutes.

10. Slide the frittata onto a plate. Place the skillet upside-down over the plate.

12. Return to heat. Cook 3 minutes or until cooked through.

13. Slide the frittata onto a serving plate.

14. Cut the frittata into 8 wedges.

15. Drizzle vinegar over the top, garnish it with parsley and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 23g carbohydrates; 2g dietary fiber; 9g protein; 3g total fat (1g saturated fat); 404mg sodium; 156 calories.

Greek Frittata

Although we associate the frittata with Italy and Spain, you'll find enticing variations on this classic dish throughout the Mediterranean. In this Greek Frittata, spinach and sun-dried tomatoes add both color and flavor, while feta and oregano lend it a delicious -- and distinctly Hellenic -- flair.

6 dried sun-dried tomato halves
1 garlic clove, minced
4 cups spinach leaves, coarsely chopped
1 large egg
3 large egg whites
1 tablespoon crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese (optional)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Canola cooking spray
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

1. Place the dried tomatoes and 1 cup of cold water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 2 minutes.

2. Remove the pan from the heat and let it sit until the tomatoes are soft but not mushy, 10 to 20 minutes.

3. Squeeze out the moisture, chop the tomatoes and set them aside.

4. Preheat the broiler.

5. Coat an 8-inch skillet that can go under the broiler with cooking spray.

6. Sautee the garlic over medium heat until it starts to color, 1 minute. Add the spinach and cook just until it collapses, 30 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside.

7. In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs together with the egg whites until well blended.

8. Mix in the spinach and garlic, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, feta (if using), oregano and salt. Season with pepper.

9. Add oil to the pan and heat over medium heat until hot, tilting the pan to coat the sides with oil. Pour in the egg mixture. Cook 1 minute.

10. Continue cooking while lifting the edges so the liquid flows underneath. When only the center of the frittata is moist, about 4 minutes, broil until the top is golden, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes.

11. Loosen edges and slide the frittata onto a serving plate. Let it sit for 10 minutes before cutting, or cool to room temperature.

Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 7g carbohydrate; 2g dietary fiber; 11g protein; 7g total fat (1g saturated fat); 582mg sodium; 134 calories.