Asparagus and greens frittata
Frittatas are one of the dishes that often get thrown together with leftovers in my house. This one, though, was more deliberate, and worthy of a meal and a shopping trip in itself. I love frittatas but I don’t always want to eat eggs, so I have come up with a vegan version using gram flour. I have kept the egg option in too, for those who prefer it. Use any springtime greens; this could be spinach or kale or even wild garlic or nettles if you can pick or buy some near you. If you are using wild garlic leaves, just don’t add the garlic cloves. When asparagus is out of season I make this with blanched broccoli or cauliflower in its place.
8 organic eggs or 200g chickpea flour
2–4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and
a small bunch of spring onions,
2 x 250g bunches of asparagus, woody bottoms snapped off and discarded, spears sliced into 2cm pieces
3 big handfuls of greens – spinach, sorrel, watercress, wild garlic, nettles (about 150g)
the zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
100g ricotta or vegan ricotta (I like the Tofutti brand)
1 tablespoon nigella seeds
FOR THE SALSA
a small bunch of parsley
1 red chilli
juice of 1⁄2 the lemon (from above)
1 teaspoon harissa
1⁄2 teaspoon maple syrup or honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
If you are using eggs, turn the grill on high (about 220°C). If you are using chickpea flour, heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6. You will need a 24cm ovenproof frying pan.
For the vegan (chickpea flour) version, pour 400ml of warm water into a large mixing bowl. Sift the chickpea flour into the bowl too, whisking as you go to prevent any lumps forming. Add half a teaspoon of salt to the bowl and season with black pepper. Whisk again to combine, then cover the bowl and set aside for 1 hour.
For both versions – get on with the veg. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in the pan. When warm, add the chopped garlic and all but a small handful of the spring onions, and let them sizzle and soften. After 2–3 minutes, add the asparagus spears and cook for a further 3–4 minutes, until they have lost their rawness but are still crisp.
Add the greens (use tongs to protect your fingers if you are using nettles), allow everything to wilt for 2 minutes or so, season well, add the lemon zest and keep on a low heat.
If you are using eggs, beat the eggs in a bowl and season well. Pour the eggs into the pan on top of the greens. Let the eggs cook for a minute, to set a little, then use a rubber spatula to pull them away from the sides of the pan, allowing the raw egg to run into the gaps. Let that set for 10 seconds or so, then repeat a few times. You are creating little layers of egg, which will make a lighter frittata. Once the eggs are mostly set but still a bit runny on top, scatter on the ricotta, then put the frittata under the grill to brown. This should take between 5 and 10 minutes depending on the heat of your grill.
If you are using chickpea flour, pour the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil into the batter and whisk to combine. Pour this batter over the asparagus and greens, then scatter over the ricotta and bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes.
While this is cooking, make your salsa. Roughly chop the parsley with the rest of the spring onions and the chilli (discard the seeds if you prefer things milder), then transfer to a bowl and add the lemon juice, harissa, maple syrup or honey and the tablespoon of olive oil. Taste and adjust, adding salt, more lemon or chilli as needed.
Use an oven glove to remove the pan from the oven or grill, then
loosen the frittata by running a spatula around the edges. Turn out the frittata by flipping the pan over on to a large plate. Then turn the frittata back over on to another plate so the pretty brown top is showing and sprinkle with the nigella seeds. Cut it into slices and eat warm or cold, with the salsa and some lemon-dressed salad leaves.
IMAGE: Issy Croker