For our first CSA dish of the season, we opted for a vegetable frittata using some of the eggs, asparagus, spinach, and chives from our share. We also added some freshly picked onions from our kitchen garden and shiitake mushrooms. We love frittata for a savory brunch but it also makes a nice dinner along with a simple salad.
The word frittata comes from the Italian fritta meaning “to fry.” According to Harold McGee in On Food and Cooking, the frittata and the Egyptian eggah are similar to the French quiche except they don’t contain any milk or cream. The Wikipedia entry for frittata notes four ways in which it differs from an omelette:
- The eggs are beaten more, and the ingredients are added to the raw eggs rather than on top of the partially-cooked eggs which are then folded over;
- The mixture is cooked more slowly, anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes over a lower heat;
- To finish cooking, the frittata is either flipped or placed under a broiler;
- The frittata is cut into wedges and served either hot or cold.
We like to begin by frying some russet potato slices in olive oil, which we will fan out across the bottom and sides of the pan to create a crust. Set them aside on a paper towel until you’re ready to assemble the frittata. At the same time, blanch the whole asparagus in boiling water for 5-6 minutes and then plunge them into ice water to stop the cooking. Drain, cut on a bias into 1-inch pieces, and set aside.
After you’ve fried the potato slices, saute the finely chopped onions and chopped shiitake mushrooms in olive oil. When the onions are soft but not browned, add the spinach and cook until wilted. Set aside.
Vigorously beat the eggs so that the frittata will be light and fluffy. Wipe the pan clean, coat with olive oil, and line with the fried potato slices, overlapping them so that the eggs won’t leak through. Add the beaten eggs followed by the onions, mushrooms, spinach, and asparagus, spreading them around inside the potato crust. Cook over medium to medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes until the eggs start to set. Preheat the broiler.
When the eggs are mostly set but still a little runny on top, the frittata is ready to go under the broiler. At this point we like to top it with some shredded or diced cheese. Today we went with some gouda that we had in the fridge. Sometimes we use mozzarella and broil until it starts to bubble and brown. We also sprinkled the finely chopped chives on top, but you could wait until you pull it from the broiler to do this if you’d like.
Once the eggs are set and the cheese has begun to brown, pull the frittata from the broiler. It should slide right out of the pan and onto the cutting board, but if it sticks just run a spatula around the edges and underneath. We used a 10-inch, broiler-safe pan and cut the frittata into four wedges.