With Spring now firmly in the air my thoughts are turning towards the highly anticipated arrival of spring vegetables.
Tucking a few forced branches cut from my backyard adds seasonal charm to a $3 bunch of daffodils from the corner deli.
Asparagus can be found anytime of year these days, but I like to wait until Easter is in sight before busting them out on the menu. The cool nip still in the air this week stirred me to come up with a more substantial preparation for them. I was thinking about a way to serve these tender green spikes as a finger food for guests to nibble on while sipping wine before a meal. Spanish Tapas were my inspiration, a frittata specifically, one loaded with asparagus.
1 bunch of thin asparagus
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 med. potato
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated fontina cheese
salt and pepper
1 Tbs Butter
Trim the ends off the asparagus and cut them into 1" pieces. In a pot of boiling salted water, blanch the asparagus for no more than 3 minutes, drain and season with salt and pepper and lemon juice, then set aside.
Cut the potato into cubes, put pieces into a small pot, cover with water add a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, cooking for 10 minutes, till potato is tender. Drain, season the potato with salt and pepper and set aside.
In a small bowl combine the eggs, cream and grated cheese and whisk to combine.
In a nonstick pan melt the butter. Spread the potatoes in a flat layer over the butter in the pan. Add the asparagus on top and then pour the egg mixture on top. Keep heat at a low even flame and let the egg mixture set.
Using a spatula push the edges of the frittata towards the center as it is cooking, allowing the egg mixture to seep down through the vegetables. When the frittata seems to be well set on the bottom, get a plate, the same size as the pan. Lay the plate on top of the frittata and quickly flip the frittata onto the plate. Gently slide the frittata back into the pan and allow it to cook until the egg is set on the bottom side, for another minute or two. Slide the frittata out of the pan and on to a serving plate. Allow the frittata to cool to room temerature before cutting into small serving sizes.
Sever 4-8 at room temp.
If anyone is feeling inspired, there is a Wiki page called MyCityCuisine that is looking for contributors. The project is creating a resource for travelers looking to sample the best of local cuisines. Check it out at: MyCityCuisine.org
While Spring may not be in the air just yet, it is still Spring. I have been so eagerly awaiting the change in produce! Twice in the past two weeks I have made dinner for friends, and both times opted to include asparagus in my dishes. And, both were pasta dishes. At first, I had planned to blanch the asparagus. Then, I considered roasting it. I finally decided to cut it into 1 inch pieces, tossed with shitakes and baby bellas with a little salt and pepper, and olive oil, and threw it in my grill basket. I let it cook on the grill for about 3 minutes, till bright green with some grill marks, but still very crunchy. I absolutely love the smoky flavor the flames give to the vegetables. Outrageously delicious. Deb's fritatta sounds wonderful. I wonder how grilled asparagus would work here? Would the grilled, smoky flavor be too overpowering? I think it could work...
Gruner Veltliner would be my wine of choice. It's one of my favorites to enjoy this time of year. Well, maybe if it was a tad bit warmer. And sunnier. And not so gloomy outside. Gruner is the most widely planted varietal in Austria. The wines typically exhibit wonderful citrus flavors and a distinct aroma of white pepper. While previously Gruners had been made in a "simple" style, today Austria's more serious winemakers have discovered that the grape can actually produce stunningly intense, complex wines. Vegetal aromas are common, like that of asparagus, and the more complex wines show beautiful tropical fruit characteristics. Extremely versatile, Gruner can pair with notoriously "difficult" foods like artichokes and asparagus. The high acidity of the wine provides a great contrast to the rich, creamy flavors of the fritatta. A perfect match for Deb's dish!
One of my current favorite Gruners is the Loimer Lois Gruner Veltliner. A steal at $11.99, it has beautiful perfumed aromatics and a spectacular spiciness on the palate. Bright, fresh and crisp, it is an ideal warm-weather wine.