Thursday, June 16, 2011

Asparagus, Leek, and Herb Frittata

Our CSA is back! The CSA to which we belong delivers shares from early June until the end of December, which means we’re back into the routine of having more of our meals dictated by what we get each week rather than entirely by my whims. 

We’re definitely eating more seasonally and locally now – there’s not a whole lot of diversity of what’s in season in New York the winter and there are only so many root vegetables one can eat before succumbing to imported produce. And I’ve gotten much better about using multiple items of our share in one meal rather than deciding on something to make for dinner and figuring out how to incorporate one item from the share.

This frittata is a perfect example of the former. Among other items, we got leeks in our first share (which was last week) as well as a big bunch of mild oregano, and this week we got sage and asparagus*. I’m a little obsessed with Thomas Keller’s leek and roquefort quiche (from his Bouchon restaurants and cookbook), and with the glut of leeks in my fridge, I had decided I was going to make it. But then the five pounds I gained from my eating frenzy in San Francisco and Napa told me that perhaps it would be in my best interest to avoid a recipe that called for two cups each of cream and whole milk and two sticks of butter. So I scaled it back and decided to make a crust-less, cream-less, and cheese-less frittata instead.

Pardon my colloquialism, but frittatas are awesome. They're the perfect vehicle for random vegetables and scraps of cheese (if you are so inclined to use them, I’m trying to lay off it for a bit) and are so easy to make. Crack a bunch of eggs into a bowl, add chopped vegetables (sauté them in advance if necessary), herbs, seasoning, and dump it into a skillet. Seriously, that’s it. Sure, you can class it up by using vegetables that actually go together, but you don’t really need to. And they come together in no time – a few minutes of prep, ten minutes on the stove, and not even ten under the broiler, and your dinner is ready.

This frittata here happens to make sense given that the vegetables in it are all from the same growing season and have mild flavors. The leeks, which are softened in a touch of oil, lend that needed allium flavor but in a subtle way. Thin asparagus doesn’t need to be pre-cooked, making it a perfect addition to this mix. And the herbs were really whatever I had on hand. We got a big bunch of oregano in our share last week and a bunch of sage this week, so I used mostly oregano and a bit of sage as well as a few leaves of basil from the plants that are taking over my windowsill to add a bit of brightness. I could have purchased local eggs and milk but I forgot my wallet when I went to pick up our share (a local farm sells eggs, mushrooms, and meats outside the church where we pick up our share) so I had to settle with the eggs and milk from Trader Joe’s that were already in my fridge. Apologies for the lack of locality.

This is also an easy summertime meal when you don’t want to be slaving away in a hot kitchen. The stove isn’t on for too long and you don’t even have to stand near it while the frittata is cooking, and the broiler is on for just minutes, so it shouldn’t really heat up your kitchen.

I served this frittata with a salad made with lettuce from our CSA share, making it even more of a winner in terms of using up what was in our CSA share. Hopefully this inspires you to creatively use up your share, too.

* This week’s CSA share pickup brought on Asparagusgate, in which members had a choice of taking either asparagus or sugar snap peas but apparently no one bothered to read the signs indicating this (or maybe they just disregarded them), resulting in members who pick up their shares after 6:30 pm – myself being one of them – missing out on both the asparagus and sugar snap peas and ultimately a string of nearly 50 emails from members about how to fix this situation. The point of this is that I bought the asparagus from the farmers market but theoretically this would have been in my share had people actually followed directions.


Asparagus, Leek, and Herb Frittata
serves 6

½ pound young leeks
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ pound thin asparagus
½ cup loosely packed fresh herbs
8 large eggs
¼ cup milk
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Cut off the bottom and dark green parts of the leeks. [I save the dark green parts for making vegetable stock.] Thinly slice the white and light green parts and transfer them to a large bowl filled with cool water. Gently swirl the leeks to remove any grit and scoop the leeks into a colander or salad spinner – don’t dump the whole bowl into the colander because you’ll be transferring all the grit you’re trying to wash away. Spin or pat the leeks dry.

Heat the olive oil in a 10” oven-safe skillet set over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the leeks and a few dashes of salt. Cook until the leeks are soft, about 10 minutes. If the leeks start to brown, lower the heat.

While the leeks are cooking, trim the tough ends off the asparagus, then chop the stalks into 1” pieces and set aside.

Chop the herbs and transfer them to a large bowl. Crack the eggs into the bowl, add the milk, salt, and pepper, and whisk well to combine.

When the leeks are soft, evenly distribute them in the pan, scatter the asparagus on top, and pour the egg mixture over the vegetables. Cook over medium heat until the bottom is set and golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Set a rack just above the middle of the oven and turn the broiler to low. Move the skillet to the oven (if your skillet has plastic on the handle, make sure to wrap the handle in aluminum foil so that it doesn't melt!) and cook until the top is golden brown and the frittata is just cooked through, about 8 minutes. Remove the skillet from the oven and let it sit in the pan for a few minutes, then transfer the frittata to a large plate or cutting board to serve.

Leftovers will keep for a few days in an airtight container or wrapped tightly in plastic wrap.

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