Asparagus and Parmesan Frittata
Source: Joyce Goldstein, author of Fabulous Appetizers and Small Plates
Slices of frittata are superb additions to nearly any antipasto table. Most recipes call for cooking the frittata on the stove top and flipping it to brown both sides, or browning the second side under the broiler. But baking the frittata is the easiest method and is practically foolproof. I have, however, included instructions for the combination of stove top and broiler for anyone who prefers to make it that way. Some cooks separate the eggs, beat the whites until they are stiff, and then fold them into the yolk-and-milk mixture for a slightly higher effect. I do not think the result is worth the extra step.
Serves 8 to 12
Extra-virgin olive oil as needed
1 ½ pounds thin asparagus spears, tough ends removed and cut into 1 ½-inch pieces
¼ cup whole milk, half-and-half, or heavy cream
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (optional)
6 to 8 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg or ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup chopped green onions or green garlic (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Using about 1 tablespoon olive oil, liberally oil a 7-by-11-by-2-inch baking dish, or a 2-quart round baking dish if you prefer. (or a 10 inch over- proof skillet)
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the asparagus pieces, and cook until tender-crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain well, refresh in cold water, and drain again.
- In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, flour (if using; it gives the frittata greater stability), cheese, nutmeg, 2 teaspoons salt, and several grinds of pepper.
- If using the green onions, in a sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over low heat. Add the green onions and sauté for a few minutes to soften. Remove from the heat and stir into the egg mixture along with the asparagus. Pour the egg mixture into the prepared baking dish.
- Bake the frittata until the top is set and lightly colored, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool for at least 8 to 10 minutes, and cut into squares or wedges. Serve warm or at room temperature.
- Alternatively, after adding the green onions and asparagus to the egg mixture, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a 10-inch flameproof sauté pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the egg mixture. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until set, 10 to 15 minutes, or leave the heat at medium and cook uncovered for about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the broiler. When the frittata is set, slip it under the broiler for a few minutes to color the top lightly and to set any uncooked egg.
- Remove from the broiler and run a knife around the sides of the pan to loosen the frittata. Invert a flat plate slightly larger than the sauté pan over the pan and, holding the pan and plate together, flip them. Lift off the pan and let the frittata cool for at least 10 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature.
Artichokes: Use 4 large or 6 medium-sized cooked artichoke hearts, sliced lengthwise ¼ inch thick, in place of the asparagus. Add 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint or basil to the egg mixture.
Greens: Use 1 ½ pounds assorted greens, such as escarole, Swiss chard, and spinach in any combination, trimmed, cooked, well drained, and chopped, in place of the asparagus. In place of the green onions, sauté ½ yellow onion, chopped, and 1 clove garlic, minced, in extra virgin olive oil until softened and add to the egg mixture along with the greens.
Leeks: Use 4 to 6 large leeks, white and tender green, cut into 1-inch-thick slices, in place of the asparagus. Sauté in unsalted butter or extra virgin olive oil until soft (about 2 cups).
Potatoes: Use 1 scant pound (4 small) potatoes, boiled, peeled, and sliced, in place of the asparagus. In place of the green onions, sauté 1 yellow onion, chopped, in extra virgin olive oil until softened and add to the egg mixture along with the potatoes.
Mushrooms: Use 1 pound fresh mushrooms, stem ends trimmed, wiped clean, and sliced, in place of the asparagus. Sauté in extra virgin olive oil with chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, a little minced garlic, and a few drops of truffle oil, if desired, until tender.
Zucchini: Use 1 pound zucchini or 16 to 18 zucchini blossoms, or equal parts of each, in place of the asparagus.
Trim and slice the zucchini and/or remove the stamens from the blossoms and halve or coarsely chop the blossoms. Blanch the zucchini slices and/or blossoms in boiling salted water for a minute or two, then drain well, refresh with cold water, and drain again.