If you’re looking for a hearty car camping breakfast, look no further than this cast iron frittata! Blistered cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, and shallots all layered together with cheese and eggs, a frittata is a wonderful way to start your morning.
How to make frittata
The process of assembling the frittata is a fairly simple affair, but figuring out how to cook it can take a bit of creativity. At home, a frittata is baked in an oven, the radiant heat working to evenly cook the eggs from the bottom as well as the top. In order to achieve the same effect at a campsite, you have a couple of options depending on your heat source.
Over a campfire
Cooking cast iron frittata on a grill grate over a bed of embers is ideal because the broad heat profile warms the bottom of the skillet evenly and embers can be placed on the lid to cook it from the top. This method is as close to an oven as you can get at a campsite.
Since it takes a while for an actual campfire to burn down to usable embers, we tend to opt for hardwood charcoal, especially in the morning. The charcoal fires up quickly when started with a chimney and function just the same as embers – better, actually, because they burn longer.
If you have a cast-iron skillet with a lid or a Dutch oven with a lid, this method is perfect. If you have a cast-iron skillet but no lid, you can tightly cover the top of the skillet with aluminum foil and carefully place a few small charcoals/embers on top.
On the stovetop
If you only have a two-burner camp stove you can still make this recipe work. Ideally, you want a camp stove with a nice broad burner. We have a Camp Chef stove that can evenly heat the bottom of a 10” skillet without a center heat spot. If you have a smaller burner that produces a localized heat spot, you’ll need to move the cast iron skillet around to warm it evenly.
If you have a cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven with a lid, you can use the second burner to preheat the lid as hot as possible. Once you’re ready to bake the frittata, you can – very carefully – cover the skillet or Dutch oven with the hot lid using heat resistant gloves or mitts. The cast-iron lid will remain hot for a while and help cook the eggs from the top.
If you are cooking over a camp stove and don’t have a lid, then your best option is to cover with aluminum foil and reduce the heat so as to not scorch the bottom. Steam trapped by the aluminum foil will help cook the heats from the top down. It’s not as effective as heating a cast iron lid, but it will work in a pinch.
Once you get your heat source figured out, the actual process of making the frittata is incredibly simple.
In a large bowl, prepare your egg mixture by thoroughly beating the eggs first, then adding in the milk, chopped basil, cheese, salt, and pepper. In your cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven, warm some olive oil and begin to saute the minced shallot. Once the shallot becomes fragrant and softens, add the cherry tomatoes, egg mixture, and cheese. Cover and bake.
After about 15 minutes, remove the lid and a puff of steam will present a beautifully cooked frittata. Breakfast is served!
Cast iron frittata ingredients
↠ Eggs: This recipe is a great way to use up a bunch of eggs before the end of a trip.
↠ Firm Vegetables: Shallots, garlic, kale, or anything else that needs more time to cook should get sauteed before you put the eggs in. Sautee these ingredients just shy of being completely done, so that they finish when you cook them with the eggs.
↠ Soft Vegetables: Anything soft like spinach, basil, or tomatoes can be added along with the egg mixture.
↠ Cheese: We never miss an opportunity to cheese up our eggs! We used shredded gruyere in this recipe, but feel free to substitute with whatever cheese is in your cooler.
↠ Cast Iron Skillet with lid or Dutch Oven: These are both incredibly versatile pieces of camp cooking gear that we would highly recommend owning. Pro Tip: If you own a 10” Dutch oven, then you also own a lid for your 10” cast iron skillet! We use the same lid for both of ours.
↠ Portable Charcoal Chimney: This portable charcoal chimney packs down flat and is an efficient way to start your hardwood charcoal.
↠ Camp Stove: We really appreciate a camp stove with wide burners and great simmer control, so we can avoid accidentally scorching food. We own this stove and have been really happy with it.
In a medium bowl, beat together the eggs, milk, salt, and pepper until thoroughly blended. Set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 10” skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and saute until soft and beginning to brown, 7-10 minutes.
Reduce the heat to medium-low by raising your campfire grate or moving the skillet to the cooler side of the grill. Add the tomatoes to the skillet, followed by the egg mixture, basil, and cheese. Cover with a lid. Scatter a few embers across the lid.
Cook until the frittata has puffed up and the eggs are just set, about 15 minutes (check at 10 minutes to gauge progress, using heat proof gloves or a lid lifter to remove the lid).
Serve with additional cheese and basil if desired and enjoy!