29 April 2012

Spring = Asparagus

The market season has barely begun, but spring has long since sprung. It's easy to appreciate the early crops that this nice weather have brought us (even though it's hard to ignore the fact that such unusual temperatures may mean stranger things as the season progresses). This year, early spring means asparagus in April. Our farmers at Fair Share Farm have a good crop of asparagus growing already and I had the good fortune to snag 3 pounds of it. 3 lovely pounds already and supposedly more to come in our first CSA share in just a few weeks.

asparagus keeps best in a glass of water in the fridge - or an unsightly tupperware of water in the fridge

Usually the first thing I do with asparagus is make this dish - Lemon Orzo with Roasted Asparagus. But I didn't have a lot of time this week, or lemon for that matter, so I started with a simple batch of steamed asparagus with salt and pepper. I ate it hot one night and then cold on a salad the next day. 

The OED defines asparagus in this charming, poetic way: "a plant cultivated for the sake of its vernal shoots, which form a well-known delicacy of the table."

Finally this weekend I had time for something more involved. And I had leeks, another spring treat. So I made this Asparagus and Leek Frittata, a recipe from my farmers at Fair Share Farm.

Asparagus and Leek Frittata - scrambled, sort of

I vary my method ever so slightly, which sometimes results in a very scrambled frittata. Scrambled or not, it is delicious. Especially with a side of spring greens.

Asparagus and Leek Frittata
Frittatas are a wholesome and easy dish, and are at their best when made with lots of vegetables. Essentially a quiche without the crust, they turn eggs into a main course.

This recipe calls for 2 cups of grated cheese. We use 1 cup of parmesan and 1 cup of Goatsbeard Farms Walloon aged cheese. Frittatas are a great way to take a high quality cheese like Goatsbeard's and spread its flavor over an entire dish. 

1 medium bunch of aparagus
1 medium leek
1 stalk green garlic (optional)
6 eggs
1/4 cup milk
2 cups grated cheese
1-1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp salt

Clean and chop the leeks, green garlic and asparagus. Saute the leeks and garlic in the olive oil and butter for 5 minutes over medium heat in an oven-proof pan. Add the salt and aspargus and cook 3 more minutes.

Beat the eggs and milk. Add half the cheese to the eggs, stir, and then pour into the pan with the leeks. Cook over medium heat for 3 minutes. The eggs should be cooked around the edges of the pan, and the center will still be soft.

Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top and place in the broiler for 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool for 5 minutes. Serve warm. Emily's variation instead of the broiler part: when the eggs are mostly cooked and only a little big wiggly in the center, turn the frittata upside down into another pan on the stove top. Spray the pan with oil first! With this method you get the nice browning on top and bottom. You may also get a little scrambling, depending on how quickly you can flip. 

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