May 29, 2012

leek + asparagus frittata with fontina

Over the long weekend my parents came into the city for a Saturday afternoon brunch, and what better to make this time of year than a frittata filled with spring vegetables: asparagus, leeks, and spring garlic. I love making frittatas for group meals because they are quick to prepare, pretty much foolproof, and not time-sensitive, since they can be served hot out of the oven or at room temperature as part of a buffet. Just add a few sides and you're ready to go.

I topped the frittata with cubes of fontina, not a cheese I've used often but will from now on, thanks to inspiration from a Giada Delaurentis recipe. At Citarella, a local specialty grocery shop, I selected a wedge of Fontina Valle d'Aosta, an Italian raw milk cheese made from the milk of certified Valdostana cows (each batch must be made from a single milking). The cheese has an assertive and somewhat pungent aroma and flavor that mellow with melting, and nutty and mushroomy qualities that perfectly complement egg and vegetable dishes.

Alongside the frittata we had a simple tomato salad made with the first cherry tomatoes of the season, slices of Balthazar bakery sourdough baguette, and thinly sliced prosciutto di Parma. Roasted potatoes with herbs would be good, too. To complete the simple and seasonal menu, a totally decadent dessert: my mom's rich, dense (almost-)flourless chocolate cake robed in ganache and served with fresh raspberries (too good for words ;).


leek + asparagus frittata with fontina 
Serves 4

If fontina isn't available, try Gruyere or a sharp cheddar in its place. Leftover fritttata reheats nicely, in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes; shown above with a fennel and tomato salad.

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 medium leeks, white and pale green parts halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch slices
3 cloves spring garlic, thinly sliced (or 2 cloves mature garlic)
1 pound asparagus, bottoms trimmed, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
8 large eggs
2 tablespoons milk or cream
1/4 cup diced fontina cheese (1/2-inch cubes)
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
Tabasco sauce, for serving

Note: both leeks and asparagus can be sandy. To remove grit, soak for 5 to 10 minutes in cold water, and drain by lifting the vegetables out of the water into a colander (grit will be left behind in the water).

Preheat oven to 375 F (or preheat broiler)

Heat butter and olive oil in a 9-inch oven-proof skillet (seasoned cast-iron is perfect for this) over medium flame until butter is melted. Add leeks and a pinch of salt and pepper, and saute until softened and beginning to brown, 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook for another minute or two.

Add asparagus and cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add a little more olive oil if needed to prevent vegetables from sticking to pan.

Whisk eggs with milk and a pinch of salt and pepper. Pour into skillet with vegetables and stir to combine. Reduce heat to low and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. When eggs are beginning to set but mixture is still wet on top, smooth the top with the back of a wooden spoon and scatter fontina on top.

Transfer to oven and bake until frittata is set and cheese is melted and beginning to brown, about 15 minutes. (Or place under broiler for about 5 minutes until cheese is bubbly and brown.)

Sprinkle chives over frittata and serve hot or at room temperature with a dash of Tabasco.


  1. Hi Nancy--what a nice spring treat for your parents; leeks and asparagus pair so well together. That artisanal "single milking" Fontina sounds quite compelling--I'll keep a look out for it at our specialty market.
    now you've got me curious about your mom's too-good-for-words chocolate torte.

  2. thanks, Denise :)

    Hi Nancy - yes, I should ask my mom for her recipe and get it up on here one of these days!