An Asparagus Adventure
Springtime is a season filled with anticipation, new life, fresh produce and looking ahead. June is here, and the local produce is starting to arrive as the farmers markets open shop. This is truly an exciting time for many chefs and home cooks, who like me, cannot wait to get going on new ideas with fresh ingredients. Creativity is abundant when the time has come to work with the recipes we’ve rehearsed in our heads as we dreamt of spring’s arrival. These new recipes gave us hope and we cannot wait to set out our new menus or spring and summer features.
As a child, I remember my mother sending me out to the garden before dinner to pick any of the asparagus that was ready. My sisters followed me to watch or join in. The satisfying click of breaking the stalks was addictive, and sometimes we gathered some that could have grown a few more inches. Oops. The task was complete, and we ran back with our goods.
Today my own yard doesn’t have an asparagus patch, yet I remembered last week that a nearby abandoned farm yard had a patch that was surely ready for picking. Something like that should not go to waste even if we had to brave the wood ticks to find them. With kids in tow this time, and my mom along to lead us to the treasure, we went on an asparagus adventure.
While a few stalks had already gone to seed, a big handful was gathered which was plenty for our dinner. Two days later, I returned for another handful. This time I also brought my clippers along to collect some lilacs, lily of the valley, and claim some wood boards off the shed that had collapsed due to age. All treasures indeed! And so, it is in activities like this, that I hope my own kids see, learn and remember how amazing it is to be able to gather and enjoy what the garden and the wild have for us and our dinner plates. Happy summer to all,
Asparagus and Brie Frittata
One 6-inch deep pie pan
2 red-skinned potatoes, sliced thin
1 red onion, julienne
2 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs Kosher or coarse sea salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 cup (or more) of fresh asparagus, cut into one-inch pieces
1 Tbs butter
5 eggs, large
Place potatoes in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil on medium heat for about 20 minutes or until cooked through. Drain and rinse once with cold water. Let the potatoes stay in the colander to drain well.
While the potatoes are cooking, peel and slice the red onion. Put a saute pan on medium heat and saute the onion with a Tbs of olive oil, adding a bit of the salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, cut up your asparagus, and slice the brie into about 12 equal slices.
Preheat your oven to 375F.
Bring a small pot with two cups of water in it to a boil on medium heat and blanch the asparagus – cooking them for just 30 seconds before draining and rinsing well with cold water.
Toss the cooked potatoes and onions together in a bowl with the remaining 1 Tbs of olive oil and salt and pepper.
Rub the butter around the base of your baking dish.
Spread out the potato mixture in the baking dish. Fanning the potato slices out helps maximize the space and creates a nice compact base for your frittata.
Crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk well. Pour over top of the potato base.
Place the sliced brie and asparagus pieces evenly over the top of your frittata and carefully put the dish into the oven.
This will bake for about 30 minutes, or until the eggs are fully cooked. The surface should feel firm and the edges will be nicely browned.
Part way through the cooking, you can brush a bit of butter or olive oil on the surface asparagus pieces that are not covered by egg.
Cut and serve while hot or refrigerate and serve the next day. It reheats well.
Serves 3-4 meal portions and pairs beautifully with a cup of black coffee or a glass of Pinot Noir.