A silky blend of eggs, ricotta and gruyere top hearty sweet potatoes, black beans and smoky vegetables. Flavorful and filling, this frittata can feed your brunch crowd or be stored in the refrigerator for days of healthy breakfasts.
I’ve always thought frittatas were so-so. Pretty good. Nothing special.
Breaking news: I was WRONG.
The frittata conversion
This summer while Adam and I were visiting his parents in West Virginia, they made us an incredible brunch. It featured biscuits (duh, I said “West Virginia“), a selection of gourmet jams (new playlist name?!) to try and the star of the show: a cheesy, tender frittata.
The problem with frittata for me has always been that it’s either too rubbery or too slimy, and/or that it’s just too eggy. Yes, I know its supposed to taste like eggs. Yes, I love eggs. No, I have no desire to eat a wet scrambled egg pie. Sorry.
But this frittata. THIS frittata was spongey in a buttery way, had plenty of texture to break up any monotony, and had as much flavor as any savory dish at my favorite brunch spots. It was filled with sausage, potatoes, kale, spinach, onions, and lots of cheese.
One of the reasons it was so incredible is because my parents-in-law broke the rules of the recipe they were using, and brilliantly so. It said to drop ricotta in by the spoonful before cooking, but they went ahead and mixed it right in to the eggs with the gruyere. I think that made all the difference in terms of texture. They also threw in some browned sausage into the mix, which was pro play-calling.
I’ve been a frittata fiend since. I’ve made one nearly every week—really. It’s such a great breakfast, and I just have to work for it Sunday to reap the benefits throughout the workweek. To switch it up I’ve been rotating versions, including the one I’m sharing today: southwest-style sweet potato frittata.
This frittata has the same incredible texture, but a slightly different vibe. Namely, smoky-sweet. Onions, cherry tomatoes, jalapeños and black beans form the smoky base, while crispy-edged sweet potatoes add meatiness and mellow things out. It’s topped with… you guessed it an egg mixture enhanced with ricotta and gruyere.
I know, it doesn’t sound like either of those cheeses should go in anything invoking the southwest, but I swear it works. If you really have a problem with the gruyere, you can always go for some sharp cheddar, but DO NOT skip the ricotta.
Ricotta is essential to the experience I’m trying to give you. Don’t question it. I’m more Lucille Bluth than David S. Pumpkins on this one.
I truly don’t know that I’ll ever make another frittata without it.
A fatty hypothesis with some steam to carry it
If I had to guess why the ricotta-egg mix is so magical, I’d chalk it up to the fat versus liquid content. Ricotta a whey protein, which is essentially cream or milk quickly curdled with an acid in order to thicken it and intensify the flavor. That means the fat and protein stick around without all the liquid.
When you cook eggs mixed with dairy products or other liquids, too much steam can become a problem. With a short cooking time it’s not such a big deal, but the longer the cooking time, the more tightly the proteins in the eggs bond, the more liquid they push out, and the tougher your eggs get.
On the other hand, if you reduce the liquid and up the fat, your eggs are going to steam less, and your eggs should stay tender. Furthermore, the added fat will coat the proteins and slow down their coagulation even more.
TL;DR: You get to have your cake and eat it too, as the liquid from the milk will steam the proteins enough to make the eggs fluffy, but the fat in the milk and the ricotta will coat the proteins to help keep it from getting tough and rubbery.
Why mess with a frittata that isn’t broken?
I believe in moderation, so some sausage is perfectly okay in my diet. On the other hand, moderation probably doesn’t include eating it nearly every day. Besides, sometimes you’ve just got to switch things up!
A big benefit of this southwest-style sweet potato frittata is that it puts a little healthy twist on things. Swapping out sausage for black beans and potatoes for sweet potatoes lowers the sodium a bit, adds some more vitamins and fiber and lightens things up overall without sacrificing flavor. It’s probably not the recipe you’re looking for if you’re overly concerned about cholesterol, but hey, it’s also not the 90s.
A few months after our trip, Adam’s parents came to visit us on their way to visit family in Alabama. I was able to serve them my version of their frittata on their way down, and this southwest-style sweet potato frittata on their way back home. I might have gushed a little over how they’ve inspired my new obsession and made my mornings before work so much easier.
This southwest-style sweet potato frittata is perfect if you have company coming over, especially if you prep the vegetables ahead. I personally like to make this on a Sunday so I don’t have to worry about breakfast throughout the week.
It refrigerates beautifully, and can be reheated in the microwave without altering the texture dramatically, unlike many egg dishes. That’s saying something, because generally I ha-ha-haaaate microwaved eggs. The ahem RICOTTA keeps the microwave from turning the eggs into smelly rubber. I just pop in a slice for 45 seconds to a minute and savor it with some coffee and maybe a side of fruit.
Are you a frittata fan? What’s the best one you’ve ever had? As always, I want to hear from you! Whether you make this one, think it sounds good, or just have strong feelings on egg-dishes, let me know in the comments!
Anyway, let’s get cooking!
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