Did you know there is a gene that determines whether you have smelly pee after eating asparagus? Someone told me that once, and i totally disbelieved them, as i'd never met anyone who didn't have smelly asparagus pee. However i was visiting that person recently, and since we are in the midst of asparagus season, the subject came up again. When i dissed Al's "asparagus fact", he told me to google it, so i did, and discovered he was correct. In the course of my 'research' i discovered there is also a gene that determines whether you can smell asparagus pee... or not. So i'm still waiting to meet someone who doesn't have smelly asparagus pee, but now, if i meet someone who says that they don't, i won't know if they have the gene that prevents their asparagus pee from smelling, or the gene that prevents them from smelling their asparagus pee...
I'm in asparagus heaven, eating as much of the stuff as i can, but other lovely vegetables are also starting to appear. I picked my first peas yesterday - only about a dozen pods, but still. I also have lots of going-to-seed silverbeet and perpetual spinach in the garden; i enjoy picking the tender small leaves near the top of the seed spike and pretending they are 'baby' spinach leaves. On my way home from two weeks away working i bought a lovely kilo of fresh asparagus from one of our local vineyards (the Amberley lady did not have her asparagus sign out; neither did the vineyard, but i was getting desperate, so stopped in to see if they had any, and they did. The woman who served me said "it looks like we have made your day". She was right.)
All this fresh produce inspired the following recipe, based very loosely on an asparagus and mint frittata recipe someone once gave me.
Of course the 12 pods of peas i picked wasn't quite enough, so i supplemented them with bought peas from the freezer. I also included some potato in this frittata, simply because frittata is not frittata without some potato in it (in my opinion), and the added carbohydrate makes the meal hearty enough to serve with a simple green salad on the side. However if you are not a big eater, or are making this as a dish for lunch, you could easily omit the potato.
For grating the Parmesan cheese, i highly recommend using a micro-plane. If you use a regular grater, you'll get through half a block of the stuff to get your cup's worth, but a micro-plane makes Parmesan go a long way - i used less than a quarter of a block. Of course, if money is no object, and you like a really cheesey frittata, then go right ahead and use a regular grater - i'm sure your frittata will taste great.
SPRING VEGETABLE and MINT FRITTATA
4 medium potatoes
Big bunch of asparagus, approx 24 spears
3/4 cup peas, fresh or frozen
2 cups of baby spinach leaves (or small, going-to-seed leaves of silverbeet or perpetual spinach)
8 fresh eggs
1 cup of grated Parmesan
small bunch of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped
zest of two lemons
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Parboil your potatoes for 8 to 10 minutes, until barely tender. Drain and refresh under cold water, drain again and set aside to dry.
Trim your asparagus spears, cut in half on the diagonal. Break eggs into a bowl, beat well and add Parmesan, mint, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Put the peas (fresh or frozen) into a small pot, pour boiling water over, let stand for a minute, then drain and refresh under cold water. Set aside.
Do the same for the baby spinach leaves - pour boiling water over to wilt the leaves, then drain immediately.
Warm a large, oven-proof fry-pan over a medium heat, add the olive oil, asparagus and garlic. If you have a mix of thick and thin asparagus spears, add the thick ones first, and the thin ones a minute or two later. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes with the lid on until tender and bright green.
Remove the pan from the heat, and tip the asparagus onto a plate. Don't worry if some of the garlic remains in the pan.
Slice the parboiled potatoes into slices about 1cm thickness, and arrange over the bottom of the fry-pan. Spread the wilted spinach over the potato, spread the asparagus spears over the spinach, and sprinkle the peas in between.
Give the egg mixture a quick stir to make sure everything is evenly distributed, then pour over the surface of the frittata. Place the fry-pan back over a medium-low heat. As it is cooking, use a silicone spatula to loosen the edges of the frittata from the frypan, and tip the pan to allow any soft egg mixture to run underneath. When the mixture is nearly set, but still slightly runny on top place the fry-pan under a grill for a few minutes until the top has set and turned a lovely golden colour.
Can be served warm or at room temperature with a crisp green salad on the side.