May 05 2011
Cooking it Fresh: Asparagus
As I wrote yesterday, our kitchen turned green last weekend. We had asparagus peels all over our counter, our compost, our sink, our hands…and most importantly, our bellies!
For dinner on Saturday night, we steamed the asparagus and added browned butter, the perfect side for our fish dinner. For dinner on Sunday, we made an incredible asparagus soup. The soup was a lesson in patience: within the first five minutes our entire kitchen had been destroyed and we were still attempting to make sense of the recipe. We declared that this was a good attempt but we’d never make it again. But then, after we ate it—the whole pot of it—we fear that all other asparagus soups we make in the future will pale in taste comparison.
The kitchen was such a mess that I didn’t have time to take pictures of the soup, so when we cook the soup again (this weekend!?), I’ll share my thoughts and the recipe with you.
That covers dinner on both Saturday and Sunday nights, but what did we do with the additional pound of asparagus? We saved that pound for Sunday morning. The Produce Bible has a recipe for an asparagus and mint frittata. We switched out mint for sorrell (it had looked too good at the market to pass up) and kept the rest of the recipe the same.
The key—as always when cooking with eggs—is to use the best eggs possible. We get ours from Flying Pigs Farm. If you get nothing else at the farmers market, buy your eggs there. Farm fresh eggs taste better, look better, and are better for the animal, farmer, and farmland, than your standard grocery store variety.
If it’s impossible for you to visit a farmers market, normally I’d recommend looking for eggs that are Animal Welfare Approved. Unfortunately, at this moment, there are no participating producers that sell to grocery stores. Remember that cage free or free range might sound like an ideal life for a chicken—but those terms can still translate to 1,000+ chickens crammed into a poorly ventilated barn with a small stoop beside it. If nothing else, find a carton that says ‘pasture raised’. If you see a carton with the label Certified Humane, it’s a roll of the dice: for eggs to have a Certified Humane label, the chickens must be able to roam freely inside and perform natural behaviors. However, there are no requirements for density and beak cutting is allowed. And the farm operations pay for their certification. In Righteous Porkchop, Nicolette Niman Hahn, warns about the Certified Humane Label:
“The label is paid for on a per-animal basis by the very operations being certified! Because the program heavily relies on revenue from the animal operations, how can it be objective?”
Anyways: This frittata came together perfectly. We cut ours like a pizza—and couldn’t stop eating it. I commented that the same frittata recipe can be adapted easily into the backdrop for broccoli, chives, tomatoes, parboiled fingerling potatoes, you name it. I’m eager to make this again and try it with mint!
Asparagus and Sorrell Frittata
Recipe Adapted from The Produce Bible
1/3 cup grated pecorino or Parmesan
1 handful Sorrell leaves, loosely chopped
15-16 asparagus spears
2 tablespoons olive oil
1) Break the eggs into a bowl and beat well. Stir in the cheese and sorrel.
2) After snapping off the woody ends of the asparagus, cut diagonally into 2 inch pieces.
3) Heat the oil in a frying pan over high heat. Add the asparagus and cook for 5 minutes (or until tender). Season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low before pouring the egg mixture over the asparagus.
4) Cook for 8-10 minutes, using a spatula to pull the side of the frittata away from the side of the pan. Be sure to also tip the pan a bit to move around the uncooked egg.
5) If you have a broiler in your oven (*we do not), you can take your frittata off of the stove 2 minutes before it sets and set it under the broiler. If you don’t have a broiler, continue cooking until the top is firm.