At last! The Sprout Diaries receives its first cooking entry. The two recipes described here (baked asparagus & yellow pepper frittata and roasted potatoes & asparagus with parmesan) used farm fresh Michigan asparagus, the local-ness of which I feel was key to both dishes’ overwhelming success.
baked asparagus & yellow pepper frittata
2 pounds asparagus
2 large yellow bell peppers
1 medium zucchini
8 ounces mushrooms
3 tablespoons olive oil
10 large eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leafed parsley leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a 9 x 13 -inch glass baking dish.
Trim asparagus and diagonally cut into 1-inch-wide slices. Cut bell peppers and shallots into thin strips. Halve zucchini lengthwise and slice thinly. Slice mushrooms thinly.
Have ready a bowl of ice and cold water. In a large saucepan of boiling water, blanch asparagus 1 minute and drain. Immediately drain and transfer asparagus to ice water to stop cooking. Drain asparagus and pat dry.
In a large skillet sauté bell peppers, mushrooms and shallots in oil over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until peppers are softened (about 10 minutes).
In a large bowl whisk together eggs, cream, parsley, salt, and pepper. Stir in asparagus, sautéd mixture, and zucchini.
Pour custard into baking dish and bake in middle of oven until golden and set, about 35 minutes. Cool frittata on a rack.
(Note: I unfortunately did not have a 9 x 13 glass dish at my disposal for my dinner. Instead, I upped the number of eggs to a dozen and used two glass dishes, each slightly smaller than 9 x13.)
roasted potatoes and asparagus with parmesan
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces grated parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 450°F with rack in upper third.
Toss together asparagus, potatoes, oil, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a large shallow baking pan, spreading evenly. Roast, stirring once, for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese and roast until cheese is melted and golden in spots, about 3 minutes more.
The inaugural Sprout Diaries dinner, featuring the asparagus-centric frittata and potato dishes detailed above, was held last night on my family’s patio. The two main dishes were complemented by a light summer salad (spinach, strawberries, toasted walnuts, feta, and vinaigrette) and a hearty wheat bread with homemade blueberry jam. Mimosas rounded out the breakfast-for-dinner fare, and helped grace the meal with the simple, summery elegance that a vegetable as laudable as the asparagus deserves. Present at the dinner were my parents, sister and soon-to-be brother-in-law. It was an entirely enjoyable evening and a fine celebration of the “king of foods.”
Following dinner, I served a light dessert of mango sorbet and raspberries, as fresh and delicious as it was aesthetically pleasing.
Dear readers, make sure you take advantage of Michigan asparagus before the season is up! And if you do end up trying either of the recipes I took on, I’d love to know what you thought. Thanks for reading, and happy spring!