July 9, 2009

A very greenmarket dinner

There were lovely asparagus and eggs at the Greenmarket today, so it seemed a good night to make an asparagus frittata. A frittata is basically an Italian open-faced omelette, started on the stovetop and finished under the broiler.
  • Asparagus (about 3/4 pound)
  • 6 large eggs
  • Splash of whole milk (about 2T)
  • XVOO
  • S&P
  • Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
I washed, dried, and chopped up the asparagus, and heated about 2T XVOO in a skillet (ideally cast iron, but I don't have one, so I used stainless steel. I need to get to Zabar's second floor for a cast iron skillet very soon...). Sauteed the asparagus till crisp-tender and bright green.

While the asparagus was cooking, I whisked together the eggs with a splash of milk, a pinch of sea salt, pepper, and nutmeg. I poured the egg mixture over the asparagus and stirred everything together. Kept stirring for about 3 minutes till the eggs were starting to set but still wet on top. Then I put the pan under the oven broiler for about 3 minutes till the top of the frittata was golden brown and puffed up a bit.

There were so many gorgeous greens at the farmers market today, I had trouble choosing which ones to buy. After much deliberation I selected Lolla Rossa lettuce (mild with tender, burgundy-colored leaves) and frisee (slightly bitter, with long spindly whitish green leaves).

I'm not exaggerating when I say my trusty greens spinner (below) has changed my life. Since I have very limited kitchen space, and I'm usually cooking for 1 or 2 people, I got an herb spinner, which is smaller than a salad spinner and works perfectly well for smaller amounts of greens. I used to wash the greens and spread them on a towel to dry; but they always retained a lot of water and the dressing didn't adhere to them very well. With the spinner you get out so much more water, so you don't dilute your dressing! You can wash the greens in the bowl part of the spinner, drain them using the colander (2-3 changes of water depending on how much dirt is on the greens), and then spin them dry. Genius.

I made a simple garlic vinaigrette based on Sally Fallon's recipe in Nourishing Traditions. I minced a clove of garlic, and using a fork whisked it together with about 1 tsp of stoneground mustard, 1 T raw red wine vinegar, a pinch of Celtic sea salt, and a pinch of black pepper in a small glass. Then I added about 4 T XVOO, whisking with the fork, and stirred in a bit of flax oil (about a teaspoon).

The greens were tossed with some dressing, and voila - asparagus frittata and Lolla Rossa-frisee salad with garlic vinaigrette. Oh, and blueberries for dessert. A perfect summer dinner.


  1. Nancy, what is the advantage of a cast iron skillet anyway? And are you really not supposed to clean a cast iron skillet with soap and water?

  2. Cast iron is an excellent conductor of heat and also distributes heat very evenly, so you're less likely to get hot spots in the pan. An added benefit is that the food will pick up iron from the pan, an easy way to get more iron into your diet.

    I've heard never to clean a cast iron pan with soap, but just to wipe it out with a clean cloth and scrub it with salt if necessary. However, some people say it's ok to use soap and water as long as you dry it immediately and never put it in the dishwasher. I think I need to do a little more research on this...

  3. Having used cast iron pans at our deli over the last 24 years, I suppose I'm qualified to speak on the subject!
    Perhaps the reason we get different reports (to soap or not to soap, etc.) is due to misunderstandings of the "truly seasoned" pan.
    They now sell supposedly "pre-seasoned" pans, but I haven't found those pans to be all that seasoned. I've also followed directions for seasoning pans: Wiping with oil and leaving in a low heat oven for some time.
    It doesn't really matter how long you leave a pan in the oven- hours, days, months... It still doesn't get perfectly seasoned until you start using it regularly.
    I have helped friends and family pre-season their pans successfully in one way: By using the pan on our grill at the deli for a week or so. We'll heat that pan up 20-50 times a day, adding oil and grilling our rolls and Vegeburgers in it...
    Not that the home cook has to resort to that! But one should just keep faithfully using that pan day in and day out... It will eventually reach the perfectly seasoned state, when foods won't stick to it, foods will rarely burn in it, foods will clean out of it with ease, foods will go from stove to oven to finish baking... At that point, it won't even matter if you use a bit of soap now and then. And just wiping it out with a paper towel will work if you've just grilled some bread in it.
    Everyone needs an iron pan!!!

  4. Jennifer, thanks so much for clarifying the cast iron question. Great info!