How to make Jane Hornby’s asparagus and bacon frittata

This delicious recipe ideal for an indulgent weekend brunch comes from Jane Hornby's latest cookery book.

A few years ago, when my grandmother died, I ended up with one of her cookbooks – a vintage 1970s Delia Smith book consisting of several hundred pages of text, not a single picture, and an index full of interesting and useful recipes with page numbers that weren’t actually in the book itself, but instead hidden in a different, lost volume.

To borrow a phrase from IT, it was perhaps the least user-friendly cookbook I’ve ever come across. With the possible exception of a Nigella Lawson tome stuffed with ingredients which neither I nor anyone else in West Sussex appears to have even heard of, let alone stock in the local shop.

Jane Hornby’s latest book, Simple & Classic, is the absolute antithesis of such nonsense. The words and descriptions are as simple and clean, as is the photography by Steve Joyce which shows step-by-step from assembling ingredients through to the processes needed to put together recipes. It’s a perfect marriage of the simple presentation of the Instagram blogger to the absolute brilliance of using a book. It doesn’t need booting up or charging; its screen won’t turn itself off while your hands are covered in flour; and its character will only be enhanced by a few spots of gravy dribbled on the occasional page. And unlike the internet, you know that the recipes have been tried and tested to taste good, rather than just looking the part.

We’ll be running several of the recipes over the next few weeks on the Country Life website, and the whole book – Simple & Classic: 123 step-by-step recipes by Jane Hornby (Phaidon, £29.95) – comes warmly recommended.

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Recipe: Asparagus and bacon frittata

Eggs, bacon, tomatoes – almost all the elements of a classic traditional English breakfast, but shaken up with a fresh blast of basil pesto and seasonal greens. Add a handful of sliced mushrooms to the bacon, if you like.

If there are any leftovers (I doubt it), pack them into lunchboxes. Enjoy with good crusty bread.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 6 rashers good regular streaky bacon (dry-cured is best)
  • 150g bunch asparagus
  • 10 cherry tomatoes
  • 8 medium eggs
  • 2 tbsp fresh store-bought pesto
  • Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • Salt and pepper
  • Good-quality bread for serving (optional)
Asparagus and bacon frittata

©Steve Joyce / Phaidon


1. Snip the bacon into bite-sized pieces. Heat an 8-inch skillet or frying pan, then add the bacon and cook for 5 minutes or until golden and the fat has started to run.

2. Meanwhile, cut off the bottom 2 inches from each asparagus spear, because the ends can often be tough. Discard. Cut the spears into shorter lengths. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half.

3. Preheat the grill to high. Lift the bacon onto a plate and spoon off the excess fat, leaving about 1 tablespoon behind in the pan. Add the asparagus to the pan and fry it for 3 minutes, or until bright green and just tender to the bite (try a bit if you’re not sure, and remember it is going to cook more when the eggs are added).

4. Beat the eggs together. Season with pepper, but take it easy with the salt, because the bacon will add plenty. Return the bacon to the pan, then pour in the eggs. Turn the heat down to low.

5. Cook the frittata for 5 minutes, or until the eggs are nearly set. Stir the eggs around very gently a few times as they cook, letting the liquid egg fill the gaps that the spoon makes.

6. When the eggs are almost set, sprinkle with the cherry tomatoes, spoon over the pesto, then season with salt and pepper.

7. Put the pan under the broiler (grill) for just a few minutes, until the eggs are set and the top is turning golden. Serve cut into wedges, with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and some good bread.

Simple & Classic by Jane Hornby