Recipe: A Tiny Frittata
Twice a month, Berkshire native Alana Chernila, mother of two, and author of the cookbook, The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying & Start Making (Clarkson Potter), contributes a thoughtful and heartfelt essay/recipe created exclusively for Rural Intelligence readers. Her first cookbook has achieved top-seller status, and Chernila has a new one in the works, tentatively titled “Meals from the Homemade Pantry,” due out in 2015. This week, she flips up a personal-sized frittata with spring’s first harvest.
The Handful-Sized Harvest
Garden Harvest: May 31
3 asparagus spears
1 handful (small) dill
4 leaves flat leaf parsley
1 basil leaf
1 shoot green garlic (accidentally picked while weeding)
The gardens of August and September bring on such a flood of food, it can be hard to know what to do with it all. The fridge can hardly close for all the greens and the entire counter is covered with tomatoes, peppers, corn—all exactly five minutes from overripe. There are worse problems to have, and come late summer, you won’t hear a complaint from me (although I might refuse to eat even one more cup of gazpacho). But these early beds of spring provide a different sort of abundance. Each leaf and root is such a treasure, and I end up creating a whole dish around the best way to taste a handful of herbs or a few red globe radishes.
I’ve seen a similar appreciation across the table when I work at the farmers’ market, too. This last week, we filled the Indian Line Farm table with just a few early greens. There was spinach, a spicy salad mix, and a tower of deep green bunches of broccoli raab. We devoted one side of the table to the radishes—three different varieties in all. There were the long white tipped French Breakfast, the classic bombshell Cherry Belle, and a new variety to me this year, the bright magenta Amethyst. Each of the few vegetables drew people over to “Ohhh! Ahhh! Broccoli raab!” Or “Have you ever seen such a beautiful radish?” I spent the morning explaining how to cook broccoli raab (braise it quickly in water with a knob of butter) and the difference between the three radishes (equally spicy, but the heat comes quick or waits a few seconds), usually ending with one of my favorite market questions: Which one do you think is most beautiful? Inevitably, one bunch of radishes would call to them, and together they’d head back home for lunch.
When the harvest is tiny and wonderful, one of my favorite ways to eat it is in a tiny and wonderful frittata. Fill it with all of your spring treasures, and it will feed you well.
A Tiny Frittata
Serves 1, or 2 who like to share
1 heaping cup chopped fresh spring vegetables (asparagus, radishes, tender greens, peas)
1/3 cup milk, half-and-half, or (my new favorite) plain kefir
¼ teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper
small handful fresh herbs, roughly chopped
¼ cup grated cheddar cheese, crumbled feta or ricotta
1. Heat a bit of oil in your tiniest frying pan. Add the vegetables and cook them just until tender. Let them cool for a few minutes.
2. Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt and pepper.
3. Scoop the vegetables out of the pan, and wipe out the pan. Grease the entire inside of the pan with olive oil. Add the vegetables, herbs and cheddar to the egg, stirring gently to combine. Scrape the egg mixture into the greased pan and let it sit undisturbed over medium low heat until it’s firm around the edges. Then transfer the pan to the oven, and heat under the broiler until it’s golden and slightly puffed.