Thursday, June 11, 2015

Pencil Asparagus Frittata

(Above photo from STEEPED book shoot)

When spring semester finals are done, and grades are turned in, and all the students move out of the dorms and go home, the real work starts. Sure, the school year is busy, but that's just sort of day-to-day busy-ness, filled with things like teaching and admin. Summertime is when most academics (at least, at research unis) do the lion's share of what our jobs are about: busting our asses to get research going, writing grants, writing papers, revising papers, exploring new data, re-exploring old data, crunching through analyses, reading all the papers, setting up labs and experiments, all the things.

Sure, it's nice that there are fewer daily constraints on time (i.e., I don't have to be in class at x time or at a faculty meeting at y time), but I honestly feel like the hours fill up faster during the summer. There's never enough time to get what needs done done!

But, quick breaks are necessary for sanity, so when my little chamber music trio--made up entirely of swamped summertime paper-writing academics--had an uncharacteristic mid-week rehearsal recently, I pressed pause on the paper-writing to make sure we had a yummy but quick lunch to go along with rehearsal.

Lately, since I get to work from home a bit more during the summer, eggs have been my lunchtime jam. They're super easy and satisfyingly filling, and I find the blank canvas of egg dishes to be really exciting creatively. This time around, I decided to go with one of my favorite, easy-but-impressive make-ahead dishes: the frittata, which can be made the night before amd either served cold the next day or re-warmed briefly with great results. This pencil asparagus frittata is a simple but elegant affair, with thin pencil asparagus roasted to a savory crisp, embedded in a fluffy kefir and asiago cheese frittata, and flavored with just a dash of Worchestire and sumac. The top of the frittata, after it comes out of the oven, is sprinkled with lemon zest for a bright burst of summery freshness.

Okay, that was a quick update, but paper deadlines are once again looming. Back soon!

P.S. Want more Desserts for Breakfast? Come say hi on the new tumblr companion blog, for more frequent, quickie updates!

Read on for recipe...

Pencil asparagus frittata
makes one 10-inch frittata

1 large bunch of pencil-thin asparagus
olive oil
salt & fresh ground black pepper
8 eggs
1/4 cup kefir cheese
2 Tbspn milk (e.g., 2% or whole)
1 Tbspn Worchestire sauce
1/4 tspn sumac
3/4 to 1 cup coarsely grated asiago cheese
freshly grated zest of 1 lemon

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Spread the pencil asparagus on a baking sheet in one layer. Drizzle with a little bit of olive oil, sprinkle with a light bit of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bake the asparagus in the oven for about 25 to 30 minutes, until the stems are wilted and the tips are approaching dark brown. Remove from oven and let cool, to a point where you can handle them by touch.
2. Meanwhile, adjust the oven to broil. If you have multiple setting, choose low broil.
3. In a mixing bowl, combine the eggs, kefir cheese, milk, Worchestire sauce, and sumac. Add 1 tspn salt and a healthy bit of freshly ground black pepper (~ 1/8 to 1/4 tspn). Whisk to combine. Continue beating until the top of the eggs are very frothy.
4. Heat a 10-inch, oven safe, non-stick pan over medium low heat, with about 2 to 3 Tbspn of olive oil--just enough to lightly coat the bottom of the pan. Add the eggs to the pan. Cook for about 8 to 10 minutes, just until the edges begin to turn golden brown but the center top is still liquidy. About half-way (4 minutes) into the cooktime, sprinkle the grated asiago cheese onto the egg. Then arrange the roasted asparagus into the pan while the egg is still cooking.
5. Once the edges of the egg turn golden brown, put the pan under the broiler for about 3 minutes, just until the top is nearly solidified but still a bit jiggly, like a custard. Remove from oven. Let cool for a few minutes in the pan (it'll continue cooking and solidifying). While waiting for the frittata to cool, sprinkle the lemon zest over the frittata. Once cool, slide the frittata onto a serving plate.

Serve hot or cold. Can be made the night before if served cold (or reheated in the microwave for about 2 minutes before serving--just be careful not to overcook!).



  1. This is stunning. Love that asparagus laid on top - total deliciousness!!

  2. Oh, that frittata looks fabulous. It must have tasted great. I definitely have to try your recipe because I love asparagus in all variations. Thank you very much for sharing it!

    Warm wishes,


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