Like all of the classic flavours, asparagus is best paired in the simplest fashion with other of the great classic foods like eggs, cheese, fresh herbs, butter, lemon, pepper or salt … and the fewer the better. In fact, strip away everything but a bit of butter or lemon and a dash of sea salt and you've got the most rewarding of dishes. I'd go so far as to say that asparagus, especially when fresh and local, gives perhaps its finest performance when served almost completely au naturel and with just a tiny little sprinkle of sea salt.
Still, when Scott of Real Epicurean challenged food bloggers to come up with a seasonal recipe for In the Bag featuring asparagus as well as eggs and Parmesan cheese, I could see absolutely nothing wrong with that at all! In response, I've turned to my old stand-by, the pan-fried then oven-broiled frittata. Taking a cue from a recipe in Marlena de Blasi's fascinating Taste of Southern Italy I added some dry white wine and plenty of fresh mint to the egg batter this time, but substituted my own asparagus preparation and frittata cooking methods. Despite the amount of herb, the mint added just a delicate but refreshing bouquet that perfectly complemented the asparagus without overwhelming it. If you like asparagus, eggs and Parmesan cheese — and who doesn't? — I think you'll be delighted with this entry.
Asparagus, Parmesan and Mint Frittata
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound fresh asparagus, ends snapped off
1 clove garlic, crushed or minced
6 large eggs
2/3 cup fresh grated Parmesan
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, torn except for a few for garnish
1 tablespoon dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
fresh ground black pepper
Cut the tips off the asparagus and set aside. Chop the rest of the asparagus stems into 2-inch pieces.
Beat the eggs together in a bowl with 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, the torn mint leaves, the dry white wine, salt, and generous grindings of black pepper.
Heat the olive oil over just higher than medium heat in a 9- or 10-inch oven-safe frying pan. When the oil is hot, add the asparagus stem pieces and stir-fry for 2 minutes, then add the tips and continue stirring for another 2 minutes. Toss in the garlic and sauté for just 30 seconds to soften it up without taking on colour.
Pour in the egg mixture and tilt the pan to distribute. Lower the heat to just less than medium heat and cook the frittata, lifting its edges now and then with a rubber spatula to let uncooked egg spill beneath. Now preheat the oven's broiler.
When the bottom and sides of the frittata are nicely crusted and brown, about 8-10 minutes, sprinkle on the remaining Parmesan cheese and transfer the pan to beneath the broiler. Cook the top until the cheese and eggs are spotted with brown.
Remove from the oven and immediately slide the frittata onto a plate. Garnish with the remaining untorn mint leaves and serve in wedges either hot, warm or cold.