Asparagus heralds the arrival of Spring with spears standing upright on the green grocer’s shelves and farmer’s markets, or if you are lucky, in your own garden!
My Aunt and Uncle who live part of the year in Friuli (north-east Italy) and the other part at the family villa and farm in Campania (south-west Italy) have immense passion for good food. In fact, we all do! Whilst visiting them in late winter/early spring and as part of a long lingering lunch consisting of over six courses, my Uncle cooked a sublime Frittata using wild asparagus he foraged and picked from the hills surrounding Trieste in Friuli. It was such a memorable dish and culinary experience! Grazie mille Enzo!
The recipe I share with you today is simple and enhances the asparagus flavour. I cook this dish for simple lunches when we are working in the garden, for supper or when entertaining friends on impromptu spring visits.
Dry white wine such as Pinot Grigio, which has its origins in Trentino-Alto-Adige and Friuli-Venezia Giulia (Friuli for short) regions of north-east Italy, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc or Italian varietal white sparkling wine Prosecco, also from north-east Italy, accompanies this dish well. Buon appetito! Sylvia x
INGREDIENTS Serves 2
5 fresh free range eggs
150g fresh slim seasonal asparagus
1 clove garlic finely chopped (optional, but garlic is good!)
20g freshly grated Grana Padano (Parmesan)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
About 2 teaspoons mint or parsley leaves finely shredded/sliced
1/2 – 1 Tablespoon olive oil
Preheat oven 200°C
- Break off the tough ends from the asparagus spears and discard, better still, compost. Leave as long spears or cut into 5cm lengths.
- Blanch asparagus in boiling salted water until just tender. Drain and rinse under cold water to refresh. Set aside.
- Break eggs into a bowl. Whisk in a little salt, pepper and freshly grated nutmeg.
- Add most of the shredded mint or parsley and half of the Parmesan.
- Heat olive oil in an oven/grill proof frypan, with approx. 2cm sides, on medium-high heat. Coat pan with the olive oil then add garlic if using. Stir quickly to cook then immediately add the egg mixture. Lower heat.
- Cook until eggs begin to set but are still moist. Gently loosen the sides of the egg mixture with a spatula.
- Lay blanched asparagus spears on top. Scatter over remaining mint or parsley and Parmesan. Place the frypan in the oven or under the grill for about 5-10 minutes or so until the frittata is light golden and puffed (as photo above).
- Remove from oven or grill. Set aside to rest for a minute or two to allow the frittata to contract and loosen itself from the frypan.
- Cut frittata into wedges and serve with a freshly dressed spring salad and crunchy ciabatta bread to dip into extra virgin olive oil. Easy and delicious! Buon appetito! Sylvia x
Tips on Buying and Storing Asparagus
When buying asparagus, look for firm buds that are tightly closed with a crisp unblemished and moist looking fresh green stem.
Store asparagus by cutting about 1cm off the base of the stem. Place in a vase or glass with about 2cm water. Cover with a loose fitting plastic produce bag and place in the fridge. Change the water every two days ensuring the bud tips are not wet. Asparagus stored like this will keep fresh for approx. 3-4 days.
Alternatively, cut about 1cm off the base of the stem. Wrap a wet paper towel around the base of the asparagus. Place the asparagus into a loose fitting plastic produce bag. Pop them into the fridge. From time to time check that the bud tips are not wet and keep the paper towel moist. Stored like this your asparagus will keep well for approx. 3-4 days.
For more inspirational seasonal cooking, try my Asparagus Carbonara with Thyme and Crisp Prosciutto and check out A Bit About Asparagus to learn how this seasonal ingredient evolved.