While asparagus at the height of its season is probably best with little more than melted butter or olive oil and lemon, those imported at other times from southern climes shouldn’t be totally ignored. I know this would probably be rejected by hardline locavores, but if you love asparagus as much as we do, there are many tempting dishes that can alleviate your asparagus craving in the winter.
Eggs and asparagus have a natural affinity. They are wonderful companions whether the eggs are boiled, fried, poached, scrambled, or made into an omelette or quiche.
Our favorite is an Italian frittata. There’s not a significant difference between a frittata and a Spanish tortilla, and once you’ve mastered the technique, the sky’s the limit in the variety of ingredients you can use. In addition to the classic potato tortilla, we especially love the combination of onion, shrimp and spinach and the French omelette paysanne which includes onion, bacon or ham, mushrooms, potato and red peppers.
2-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, sliced thin
12 fat asparagus, tough ends removed
8 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup parmesan, grated
Saute the onion in 1 tablespoon of the oil in a 10″ non-stick skillet over low heat until softened. Meanwhile, steam the asparagus until they pierce easily with a knife, depending on size, 5 – 8 minutes. Cut each asparagus spear into 3-4 pieces, add them , the onions and half the parmesan to the beaten eggs and salt and pepper to taste.
Add a second tablespoon of oil to the pan and increase the heat until the pan is very hot. Add the egg mixture, distributing the asparagus and onion evenly. It will immediately begin to bubble and solidify around the edges. With a spatula, and working as quickly as you can, start pulling the cooked egg into the center of the pan, releasing the rest to the outside. If your pan is hot enough and you work quickly, you should have a fairly solid (but not dry) mass within a minute or two. Now comes the tricky part: You need to place a plate slightly larger than the skillet on top of it and invert the frittata onto it. It may be a bit tricky the first time but you’ll soon get the hang of it.
Now add another half tablespoon of oil to the pan, let it heat briefly, and slide the frittata back into the pan, uncooked side down.
Give it a minute or so (no more) and it’ll be cooked. Many instructions for frittatas and tortillas advise cooking it for several minutes on each side or putting it under the broiler instead of inverting it. This makes for one tough frittata. Slide or flip it back onto the (cleaned) plate. Shower with the rest parmesan and serve immediately.
When to have this? It’s great for lunch or a light supper with a green salad, and wonderful picnic fare, cut into cake-style slices and served at room temperature.
When I was a little girl, my mom used to make us soft-boiled eggs with soldiers whenever we were in need of comfort food, long before the term “comfort food” existed. Soldiers are essentially buttered toast cut into strips, making them ideal for dunking. I loved placing my egg in my little chicken egg cup (which I still have!), tapping off the “lid” of it, and dipping each soldier in slowly to soak up the golden nectar inside.
I still love soft-boiled eggs, though nowadays I prefer using asparagus as the “soldier” or peeling them entirely and placing them atop a hearty salad of greens with bacon and potatoes.
To make the perfect soft-boiled egg, I place an egg in a pot of boiling water, leave it for five minutes, and then drain and run it briefly under cold water. When it’s cool enough to peel, I do so. Delicious!