Spring has been showing its sporadically sunny self in the City of Light, bringing with it a fresh crop of fruits and vegetables. Artichokes the size of my head are stacked on tables at the weekend marché, and next to them are pyramids of slender, bright orange carrots draped over each other, with dirt still scattered across. I love all the spring produce, but it’s asparagus that gets me the most excited to dive into some French recipes.
Asparagus and leeks are a classic French combination that you can even blend together with stock and crème fraîche for a velvety soup. My favorite companion to asparagus, however, is the basic but versatile egg. The French are the proud owners and creators of the always popular, edible-at-any-time quiche, egg laced with custard filling and baked in a homemade pâte brisée crust. Then there’s the wonderful simplicity of a perfectly poached oeuf waiting to be burst open onto a plate of cooked asparagus.
Because so many of us are coming out of a very cold winter and getting ready to shed a few layers, I thought I’d steal a page from our Italian friends to the east and put the asparagus-egg combo in frittata form. After all, I consider the frittata a close cousin to the quiche, but the frittata saves a few calories since it’s made sans pastry dough. Throw in some local chèvre and mushrooms, and you have a light and easy way to enjoy the bounty of spring.
What I also like about the frittata is that it can be eaten warm or cold, so it’s an easy and elegant item to bring to your first outdoor picnic of the season. Paired with a light jacquère from Savoie, you might actually glimpse summer in the distance.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup onion, diced
1/2 cup asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup mushrooms, chopped, plus a handful for topping
¼ cup parsley, chopped
3 ounces crumbled goat cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1. Turn broiler to high.
2. Heat olive oil in an 8-inch ovenproof skillet. Once hot, add the onions, asparagus and mushrooms with salt and pepper to taste. Sautée until the onions are translucent and the mushrooms begin to brown.
3. In a bowl, whisk the eggs with a dash of salt and pepper. Add parsley and 2 ounces of goat cheese.
4. Place the egg mixture in the skillet with the other ingredients and use a spatula to gently lift and move the eggs around the pan until it begins to set, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining goat cheese and asparagus tips on top.
5. Place in the oven for 3–5 minutes or until the eggs are set and the top begins to brown.
6. Serve immediately or cool and eat at room temperature.