Emma’s “Holy Saturday” Frittata

I’ve always felt that the sign of a really good cook is their ability to make a delicious meal out of whatever items they have on hand; my late mother-in-law, Emma, worked that very magic in her kitchen.   You could stop by, anytime, and in a flash,  you would be enjoying a marvelous feast.
Being Italian, she had little twists that she put into her meals that were so satisfying, and filling.  Taking her shopping, on the other hand, could test the boundaries of ones patience; my oldest daughter Jen can attest to that fact.  Never was there just one stop for groceries, Emma had separate stores for her meat, her cold cuts, vegetables and bread, much to the frustration of Jen who was the only one out of Emma’s grandchildren who religiously chauffeured her grandmother around, week after week, including a Saturday stop at the hair salon.
The one trip we all loved to make was down to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx area of New York; a yearly pilgrimage just before Easter when this famous shopping area is at its best and…crowded!  Hanging in the windows of various butcher shops are baby lambs and goats (don’t go “ewwww”…it’s an Italian thing to have both at Easter) and merchants are always happy to feed you, giving samples of their shop specialties to lure you into spending money.  But, even there, my mother-in-law still had her favorite stores that we followed her in and out of, holding shopping bags full of Sausage, Cheeses, Pasta, Breads, Easter Chocolates, Sfogliatelle, Cannoli and Napoleons from Artuso Pastry, our last stop as we struggled with bulging packages, making our way back to the car.
Everything I first learned to cook was from my book collection but, thanks to Emma, I developed a passion for creating meals as she did without the dependence on the written word or even measuring.  A little of this, a lot of that and, “don’t forget the Basil” were important ingredients to almost every meal.  I can still see her in the kitchen, slicing a huge loaf of round, crusty Italian bread while holding it under one arm.  When my husband was little, he remembers his father making trips to a local store to buy “Pot Cheese” (fresh Ricotta), packed in tall metal containers covered with cellophane and a rubber band that held the overflowing cheese from spilling down the sides; cheese so fresh that its middle would be almost buttery and perfect to spread over thick slices of bread with some grape jelly added.  Simple foods, incredible pleasures.


One of her seven sisters, Gilda, lived nearby and she was the baker of the family, making a fabulous Strawberry Spongecake drenched in a mouth-watering whipped cream for special occasions, a recipe I have still.   Aunt Gilda once taught me to make a regional pasta, called Garganelli, that she rolled on sticks brought from Italy.  Once rolled, the sticks were carefully removed and the pasta gently cut into smaller pieces, allowed to rest, then quickly cooked to be served with an amazing sauce.

Each year, on Holy Saturday, my mother-in-law would make her Frittata; a basic dish with Asparagus, Sausage meat, Eggs and Fresh Basket Cheese; this meal was a tradition after fasting on Good Friday.  It’s a very simple, easy to make dish, done in one large saute`pan.
Basket Cheese can be found in most good Italian delicatessens; this soft, almost bland, cheese is generally made around Easter although it periodically appears at other times of the year; it is named simply after the container it is put in to drain and ripen. Most basket cheese is eaten fresh, soft and unsalted, but you can also salt it lightly and let it set for a longer time to obtain a firmer cheese. It’s delicious eaten with just a drop of Olive Oil, a sprinkling of Garlic Salt and a slice of Tomato!

   Basket Cheese             
               Fresh Asparagus            
                     Fresh Italian Sweet Sausage              
To serve four, you will need:
  • Large Saute`Pan
  • 1 Basket Cheese
  • 1 Pound Fresh Asparagus
  • 6 Eggs
  • 1 Pound Sweet Sausage
  • 1 Tablespoon Chopped Garlic
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt to taste
Remove the Sausage meat from their casings….you can just squeeze it out…saute with a dash of Olive Oil until cooked through; drain, remove from pan, set aside.
Turn out the Basket Cheese onto a cutting board and easily cut into cubes, set aside.
Cut the woody stem ends from the Asparagus, cut each stalk into 1″ pieces.  Using large pan, gently saute in one tablespoon of Olive Oil until tender, not soft; color should still be bright green.  Add cooked Sausage meat to pan, mix with Asparagus and the Chopped Garlic, cooking over low heat.  Add a drop more Olive Oil if needed.
Stir in cubed Basket Cheese, continue to cook over low heat.
Beat 6 eggs in bowl and slowly pour into pan, raising heat to medium level.  Slide pan back and forth across burner so that the mixture doesn’t stick and you have an Omelet consistency. 
When cheese is soft and eggs are set….you have…Emma’s “Holy Saturday” Frittata!  Serve along with a side Tomato Salad, fresh Italian Bread and…a nice Merlot if you don’t have Chianti in your wine collection.
 For more servings, just double your ingredients. 


  1. Sounds amazing Patty! And I wasn't thinking "eewwww" at all. I was thinking how I could make it over to your place for Easter. Yum yum! 🙂

  2. Mollie says:

    Expect a crowd at your house next time you make this. I'll bring the sangria.

  3. Gina Alfani says:

    Loved your post . . . it brought back memories of Saturday morning visits to the Italian deli with my mom and nana. I loved the olive salad that would sit on top of the deli counter . . . Saturday was not complete without my olive salad!!I love frittata with broccoli and cheese!Thanks for following my food blog . . . I'm following you back and look forward to exploring more of your blog :)Have a wonderful day!Gina Alfani

  4. Slidecutter says:

    @TGN…you would just love walking through Arthur Avenue! The smells are wonderful and you can find THE best Pizza anywhere in several of the restaurants. Thin crust cooked "quasi bruciato"..almost burned, with globs of Mozzarella, flavorful cooked sauce and fresh Basil. Delizioso!@Mollie….Anytime! I have beautiful Sangria glasses, lol

  5. Slidecutter says:

    @Gina….So glad you stopped by! You made me remember fresh loaves of Olive Bread, still warm from the ovens. Let's face it, Italians do it better…eat, that is, lol!

  6. No. 7 says:

    Patty, you're making me homesick. I am dying for a walk down Arthur Avenue. Who ever thought I'd actually miss some things about NY? You never realize how diverse it is when you are growing up, then you move away and can't find a good pizza, hardrolls, cannoli, pastrami reuben on rye, bagels, pastina..I could go on, but I'll spare you.

  7. Slidecutter says:

    @No.7…If I could get down there and pick up a few things, I would most definitely overnight you a Goody Box. Here in Larchmont, I'm 20 minutes away from the Belmont area but I can never get out of the damn office! We have a club friend who promised to pick me up fresh Olive Bread; if he does, I'll immediately freeze it and UPS it up to you for a little taste of home…Gotcherbraon today lady????

  8. Jordan says:

    I love that sweet story about Emma. Thanks for all the great advice you're always leaving me. I really appreciate it. All of that cheese sounds delicious. My mom and I are both cheese lovers.

  9. Toni says:

    What a delicious post!My mother could make magic from anything in the cabinet, or so it seemed. 🙂

  10. I loved this post! I just ate dinner, and yet I find I'm hungry again. Your mother-in-law sounds wonderful…the image of her family following her in and out of stores, hanging on every word and whim, made me smile. Basket cheese sounds interesting. I'd never heard of it, so I learned something new while drooling over your post 🙂

  11. Breann says:

    I have not had breakfast. Oh me oh my.. i am starving now!

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