Yes, it is a funny name. But it’s meant to be accurately descriptive.
Start with a Denver omelette. It typically includes diced ham, onion, bell peppers, and sometimes cheddar cheese. Nearly any omelette can be done as a frittata. And I have made a Denver frittata.
I had some diced pancetta in the freezer, left over from something else I made. So I thought, what about using that in a Denver frittata in place of the ham? That started the movement toward Italian, and the rest fell into place quickly. Use Parmesan cheese instead of cheddar. Add some garlic, basil, and oregano. The result is an Italian Denver frittata.
Pancetta is essentially the Italian version of bacon (but not smoked). Most recipes call for cooking the pancetta until crisp, like bacon is often cooked. I actually prefer bacon less than completely crisp. I did the same for the pancetta here, cooking it through, but stopping just before it would be starting to turn crisp. Do as you prefer.
I think the fresh basil and oregano worked especially nicely here. But if you don’t have the fresh herbs available, you could certainly use the dried versions. You would want to use less, 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of each should be plenty. And I would add the dried herbs to the vegetables when you start cooking them.
The 2 tablespoons for each of the vegetables may seem like small amounts. But this adds up to 1/2 cup. And if you look at the photo, you will see that the frittata is quite filled with the various ingredients. So you can’t do a lot more than this.
Italian Denver frittata
1/3 cup diced pancetta
2 tablespoons diced onion
2 tablespoons diced green bell pepper
2 tablespoons diced red bell pepper
2 tablespoons diced mushroom
1 small clove or 1/2 large clove garlic, diced or pressed
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano
fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese plus a little more for the top
Cook the pancetta about 4 to 5 minutes over medium heat until desired doneness. Remove from pan.
Add the onion, peppers, mushroom and garlic to the pan with the fat from the pancetta. Add some fresh ground pepper. Cook 3 to 4 minutes until everything is just starting to soften. Mix in the basil and oregano and remove from pan.
Put the eggs into a good-sized mixing bowl and beat just to mix them up. Add a bit of oil to the pan and let it get hot. Add a small amount of the eggs to the pan to set the bottom of the frittata to prevent sticking. Turn the heat down to medium low. Mix the pancetta, vegetables, and Parmesan cheese into the eggs and pour the mixture into the pan. Cook this for about 5 minutes to set the bottom and sides.
Preheat the broiler. When the 5 minutes cooking on the stove are up, sprinkle a bit more of the cheese on the top. Place the pan under the broiler, about 6 to 7 inches below. Cook until the top is set and just starts to brown. This is about 1–1/2 to 2 minutes for me, but watch closely.
Remove from the broiler, loosen up the sides with a spatula if necessary, and slide the frittata out onto the serving plate.