La Pasquetta, literally “little Easter” is celebrated in Italy festively on Monday following the more solemn days leading up to Easter Sunday. Generally a day to pack up the leftovers, get out into the fresh spring air with friends and enjoy a relaxing day picnicking. Asparagus Frittata is just the type of dish to include in your Pasquetta lunch hamper.
Historically frittata had been served in the evening, as traditionally la cena or dinner had been the lighter meal of the day. It is often prepared quickly with ingredients one has one hand; a few eggs, some cheese, last night’s leftover vegetables or pasta, cured meat – allora.
The word frittata is sometimes used interchangeably with the word omelet yet a frittata is generally only about 1/2 inch thick, lacking the puffy volume of a traditional omelet. The eggs are only lightly beaten as to avoid the formation of air bubbles. Both sides of the flat egg dish must be slowly cooked, achieved by either flipping the frittata once the bottom is set or placing it under the broiler for a few moments.
A heavy skillet works best when preparing a frittata, my personal favorite is the well seasoned cast iron model I inherited from Mio Marito’s bachelor days. Cast iron skillets maintain a constant temperature insuring an evenly cooked finished dish.
Although I have been know to whip up a satisfying frittata with what’s on hand, why not use your imagination when contemplating your next frittata. My inspiration for Frittata di Asparagus came from our local farmers market with the arrival of spring asparagus – I just couldn’t resist. The marriage of fresh asparagus and Parmigiano is heavenly. Chopped hazelnuts and truffle oil give it an elegant Piedmontese touch. Serve Frittata di Asparagi with tossed greens dressed simple with a fruity extra virgin olive oil and wine vinegar…oh yes and a glass or two of Gavi.
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- 14 asparagus spears ,cleaned and trimmed of tough ends
- 6 large farm fresh eggs
- ¾ cup freshly grated Parmigiano
- Olive oil to rub the pan
- ¼ cup of coarsely chopped hazelnuts
- 1 Tbs truffle oil
- Some shaved Parmigiano for garnish
- Blanche the trimmed asparagus by either immersing them into salted simmering water for 2 minutes on the stove top or 1 minute on high power in the microwave. Drain immediately and rinse under cold water. Dry the asparagus well using a clean cotton towel or paper toweling.
- Preheat the oven to broil and have a shelf positioned ⅓ down from the top of the oven.
- Lightly beat the eggs with the Parmigiano. Oil an oven proof skillet and place on a medium-low flame.
- Once the pan is hot, add the egg mixture and swirl the pan; stir lightly with a fork for a moment. Arrange the asparagus spears as if they were spokes in a wheel. The frittata will set quickly; once the bottom seems set and the top is a bit runny place the skillet under the broiler for 1½ to 2 minutes or until the top is set.
- The frittata may be served immediately or at room temperature. Before serving drizzle with the truffle oil and garnish with the chopped hazelnuts. A few shavings of Parmigiano add a nice touch to the finished dish.