Mother’s Day Brunch: Meatball Fritatta, Sides + Sangria


Happy Mother’s Day

to everyone who had or knew a mother!

Since you forgot to make a reservation — and the restaurants are nasty-full anyway — make brunch at home.  You’ll save your bucks, get more food and brownie points for the bang, and everyone will have a place to put their feet up and yell for more coffee.  Instead of paying eight or ten dollars for a second glass of sangria, you can leave the pitcher on ice on the coffee table where any can help themselves.  Don’t forget to toast a great mother you know.

This menu lends itself to a potluck approach.  Someone can bring the Sangria and the fresh fruit platter — since they’re buying fruit for sangria anyway.  You, as host, should make the frittata, which can be served hot, warm, or cold, and the blueberry-lemon topping for the ice cream. The non-cook can pick up a great loaf of bread. And WHY NOT? some wonderful butter.  The guy who loves to cook should make the green bean salad.  And that’s it except for setting the table and, if you don’t want to do that, make a buffet, then let folks help themselves and sit wherever.  Make sure you’ve got enough coffee because that’s all some people will want. Whatever you do, enjoy the day.  Here’s the menu, followed by the recipes you’ll need:

MENU —  Serves 6 – 8

  • Sangria and Platter of Fresh Fruit  Best to begin on the sangria the night ahead, though it can be done early morning. 
  • Meatball Frittata Make your own meatballs beforehand/buy some great ones–either way, it’s a perfect way to eat eggs!
  • Baguette — Sliced French bread with lots of butter.  It’s a holiday, right?*
  • Green Bean, Fennel, and Mushroom Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette — Not your grandma’s green beans.
  • Vanilla Ice Cream with Blueberry-Lemon Sauce   Store-bought ice cream and your sauce — which can be made ahead
  • Coffee or tea 
  • *Don’t want bread?  Try my Blueberry-Cranberry Muffins recipe — makes 12.
Tender is the word.  Gentle is the method.  Don’t over-mix or over bake.  Butter?  Yes.


serves 6  —  doubles easily

3 cups Syrah or Côtes du Rhône or other big-bodied red wine
1/3 cup each:  port and simple syrup at room temperature*
1/2 cup orange juice, optional 
2 cups  strawberries and any other spring fruit, sliced
6 sprigs fresh mint 
12-16 oz club soda, sparkling water, or sparkling wine

Early in the day or the night before, mix wineport, cooled simple syrup, oj (if using), and berries in a big pitcher.  Taste and add more port and/or simple syrup if too light, dull, or sour.   Refrigerate, well covered, until very cold.  To serve,  pour into large wine glasses over ice, garnish with a sprig of mint, and top off with a big splash of sparkling wine or water. 

Optional:  Since many people like citrus in their sangria, you could also add some sliced lemon and orange to the wine mixture before refrigerating.

*To make simple syrup (so good in iced tea),  combine equal parts water and white sugar in a small sauce pan.  Heat to boiling, stir well, and remove from heat.  Let cool completely before using.  Store leftovers in a small jar with a tightly-fitted lid and use for lemonade or iced tea another day.

{printable recipe for syrah sangria}



For this particular frittata, I had some meatballs I’d made earlier in sauce for meatball subs. We had gotten tired of eating them and I’d frozen a bunch.  You can also buy pre-cooked meatballs in the freezer section of the supermarket or sometimes fresh in the meat department or deli.  Whatever meatballs you use, just make sure they’re completely unthawed before using for this dish.  (Half-inch pieces of cooked Italian Sausage can be subbed for the meatballs if you like.)

Serves 8        Needs a large, oven-proof 12- 14″ skillet.  

Can be served at any temperature.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil or more as needed
  • 3 small potatoes or sweet potatoes (or a mixture), diced
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup onion or leeks (or both), diced
  • 1/2 cup each green(or red) pepper,  zucchini,  and asparagus, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, sliced, optional
  • 8-10 cooked meatballs, cut in half, or 10  1/2″ pieces of cooked Italian sausage
  • 8 eggs
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided (you’ll use some for garnish later)
  • Generous sprinkle of dried thyme (can sub oregano)
  1. In a large, deep oven-safe skillet, heat olive oil over medium  heat and add potatoes.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook, stirring a time or two, for 3 minutes or so.  Add onion, green peppers, zucchini, and asparagus.  Again, lightly season with salt and pepper. Cook vegetables until potatoes are nearly tender –15 minutes or more — and add garlic.  Cook, stirring, another minute or two.
  2. Stir in cherry tomatoes and cooked meatballs or sausage. Heat through.
  3. In a medium bowl, beat eggs with a pinch of salt and pepper.  Pour the seasoned eggs into the skillet on top of the vegetables and sprinkle all with half of the Parmesan cheese.  Add thyme.  Let cook stove-top until eggs are about half-way cooked.
  4. Carefully move skillet to oven and bake until eggs are set and frittata is browning.  Oven time will depend on how long the eggs were cooked stove-top, but check in 3-4 minutes, putting back in oven for another minute or two if eggs are not set.  (Mine is in the oven about 8 or 9 minutes. Yours may be a bit different.) Do not overcook.
  5. Turn out onto a large cutting board and let sit 2 minutes or so before cutting into 4, then 8 pieces just like a pizza.  You can also serve right from the pan if that’s better. Serve hot, warm, at room temperature, or cold.  Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan cheese over the frittata as you plate or at table.  (Optional:  serve with a little marinara)  Leftovers, slivered, are great cold with cocktails or on  an antipasti platter.

*Some cooks cook all of the vegetables or additions first, remove them from the pan, re-oil or butter it and then cook the eggs.  Once the eggs are a little bit set, the other ingredients are then re-added to the pan.  

Also–it’s possible to cook the entire frittata stove-top, but you’ll need to lower the heat and perhaps put a lid on the pan.  Another alternative is to slip the pan under the broiler for a minute or two to finish the cooking–instead of baking in the oven.


Green Bean, Fennel and Mushroom Salad with Parmesan and Lemon Vinaigrette

serves 6-8

  • 2 pounds green beans or haricots verts (the skinny variety)
  • 2 bulbs fennel, fronds removed (save for garnish), and sliced into half-moons*
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 9 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 16 ounces button mushrooms (small are nice)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded with a vegetable peeler
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  1. Fill an 8 or 10-quart pot half – full of well-salted water and heat over high flame. Cover and bring to a boil.
  2. Uncover; add green beans and cook 10 minutes (less for haricots verts) or until nearly tender. (Older beans will take longer; young beans will take less time.)  Using a large slotted spoon, remove to a bowl full of ice and water. (Or drain in a colander and place in ice bath).  Let cool 2 minutes; drain and set aside in a medium bowl.  Sprinkle beans with a bit of salt and pepper.
  3. In a medium skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat; sprinkle the oil with salt and pepper.  Add sliced fennel and chopped onions.  Sauté, stirring,  4-6 minutes; add garlic.  Stir, cooking until vegetables are nearly tender.  Remove with a slotted spoon and place with beans to briefly cool.
  4. Reheat skillet (add a bit more oil or butter if it needs more) over medium-high heat and add mushrooms.  Do not salt.  Let cook 5-7 minutes, stirring or shaking the pan, or until light brown.  Remove from skillet, season lightly with salt and pepper, and add to green bean mixture. Set aside to cool a bit.
  5. Make the vinaigrette:  In a small bowl or measuring cup whisk lemon juice with a pinch of salt and pepper to dissolve salt.  Drizzle in slowly, whisking, the remainder of the olive oil until thoroughly combined.   Taste and adjust seasonings.
  6. Drizzle a bit of lemon dressing over the bean mixture and stir in Parmesan.  Taste, correct seasonings; add more dressing if necessary. Garnish with reserved, chopped fennel fronds.  Serve at room temperature or chilled.
  7. *There’s a small core at the heart of the fennel you need to cut away–sort of like in a cabbage.



Scoop up the store-bought (or homemade if you’ve time) ice cream and top with a generous ladle of this luscious and fast sauce.  Make sure you leave time for the sauce to cool before you need it.  Here’s the recipe:

Blueberry-Lemon Sauce
 Watch out!  Blueberries don’t just stain, they dye! 

*2 pounds blueberries, cleaned and picked over, stems removed
*3/4 cup white  sugar                                              
*1/4 cup water
*1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Place all ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.    Reduce heat and simmer until berries are popping and mixture has thickened somewhat — 10 – 15 minutes.  Stir regularly.  Remove from the heat and let cool; mixture will continue to thicken.  Cover and refrigerate if not using within an hour or so.  You’ll have more than you need for the ice cream.  Use the remainder for pancakes or spread on toast with peanut butter.  Use within 3-4 days.

Sing a new song and think of all the women you know who are great mothers.  Here’s to them!


P.S.  These recipes have been up in other posts on either or dinner and are all original recipes.  Please don’t use photos without permission.  Thanks!


4 thoughts on “Mother’s Day Brunch: Meatball Fritatta, Sides + Sangria

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