I was serious when I mentioned that I cannot resist buying asparagus right now. Gloriously firm, upright and grassy-green, they are presently in season in California, and I am doing my best to overdose on these veggie wonders. So far there is no end in sight to my cravings.
Asparagus have an ancient culinary heritage. Popular with the Greeks, Romans and Egyptians, they even have an entry in the oldest surviving cookbook. Nowadays, asparagus are enjoyed in cuisines worldwide. Ripe asparagus are mildly sweet and astringent with a hint of lemon and grass.Their growing season is in the springtime, and they are a good match with other spring ingredients such as lemon, peas, morels and favas. In addition to tasting great, asparagus are healthy to eat. They are low in calories and great sources of vitamins A, B6, E, and K, as well as calcium, magnesium, zinc and folic acid. What’s not to like about all of that?
This is a recipe I prepared over the weekend from the TasteFood archives. As it was Easter, there were handily many eggs in the house, so a frittata was an obvious choice for a light meal. In this frittata, asparagus and leeks are sautéed and combined with fresh eggs, Gruyère and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for a rustic yet elegant one dish meal.
Asparagus and Leek Frittata
This recipe is simple to prepare, economical in ingredients and fresh with seasonal produce. It can be prepared for lunch or an easy dinner.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 leek (white and green part only), halved lengthwise and sliced thinly – about one cup
1 lb./500 g. asparagus, ends trimmed, cut on diagonal in 1″ pieces
6 large eggs
6 oz. (175 g.) Gruyère cheese, grated
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Preheat oven broiler.
Heat oil in an oven-proof skillet over medium heat. Add leek and sauté until soft but not turning brown, about 3 minutes. Add asparagus, sprinkle lightly with 1/4 teaspoon salt and sauté until bright green and crisp tender, about 5 minutes.
Lightly beat eggs in a medium bowl. Add 3/4 of the Gruyère cheese, 1/2 teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pour eggs over asparagus, gently stirring to distribute evenly. Cook over medium heat until bottom is set and top is still runny. Sprinkle remaining Gruyère cheese and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese over top. Place skillet in oven under grill. Broil until frittata is puffed and golden brown, 2-3 minutes. Remove and serve immediately or at room temperature.