Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Garlic Scapes and a Greenmarket Frittata

A friend of mine emailed me this afternoon with a request for a recipe featuring Garlic Scapes. Her timing couldn't have been more perfect. I have no idea how on earth she knew that I had been playing around with this very seasonal, very limited availability ingredient just this past weekend.


Looking like something of a cross between a scallion and a chive, the garlic scape is actually the stem of the garlic plant in a very young stage (pre becoming a bulb). I spotted them last week at Keith's Farm at the Union Square Greenmarket*. The vendors were very helpful when I asked what to do with it, as I'd never cooked with this before. They said that I should first try it raw. Sensing that I was a bit skeptical, once again I was prodded to take off a tip of the green part and taste for myself what the fascination is with this item.

As I chewed a piece of the stalk, a burst of raw garlic flavor woke up my mouth. Then, it gently subsided. Cooking it, I was told, would mellow out some of the intensity, as well. I was also reassured that the entire stem could be used, top to bottom. So, I picked up a small bunch and took it home to try. For $1.50, it was worth the risk of ruining such an intriguing plant. On the contrary, it ended up being my secret ingredient in the Fettucine with Peas and Asparagus that I wrote about on Sunday. The taste of the scape was a light, fresh counterpart to the seasonal vegetables.

After my success this weekend using the scapes in a pasta dish, I decided to see how this ingredient would work in another recipe I'd tried recently. A couple of weeks ago, I had made the Pea, Asparagus, Pancetta, and Goat's Cheese Frittata from an episode of Gordon Ramsay's The F Word. After the call from my friend today, I decided to revamp the recipe with the addition of the scapes and attempt to make it completely (or as much as possible) about what I had found at the Greenmarket, a.k.a. seasonal, locally-sourced ingredients. Here is the result below: Farmers' Market Frittata.


Serving Size: 6 wedges
Prep Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:
5 large eggs, whites and yolks separated
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. unsalted butter
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic ramp, white part only, minced (if you still have green part, also mince)
2 garlic scapes, minced
1/2 c. freshly-shelled peas
1 c. pencil-thin asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped finely
2 oz. goat's cheese, unsalted

Assembly:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees (180 degrees Centigrade or Gas Mark 4). Beat egg whites in medium bowl until frothy. Whisk in egg yolks to combine. Add salt and pepper and stir. Set aside.

In a 10-inch non-stick ovenproof skillet, melt the butter with the olive oil over medium to low heat, until they are fully incorporated. Add peas and asparagus. Toss to coat in the butter/oil and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in minced ramp (white only) and garlic scapes and continue to cook for 1 minute more.

Pour in egg mixture so that the vegetables and eggs are distributed evenly throughout. Sprinkle basil and green part of ramp, if using. Crumble goat's cheese on top of egg-vegetable mixture. Let cook undisturbed for 5 minutes or until the edges are set and just getting brown and the interior part is still slightly wobbly when you shake the pan.

Put the entire pan in the oven and cook for another 5 minutes, until the frittata has set completely. Take out of the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring on to a plate. Slice into wedges to serve. This can be chilled whole or after cutting into pieces.

I love the collage of vibrant colors that come together in this dish. When you cut open the frittata, you see the bits of green from the vegetables and herbs with specks of white from the cheese, all surrounded by deep yellow eggs. The yolks of some of the eggs from Knoll Krest Farm, my standby source for these, were almost orange, which is why the hue of the final product came out as richly-colored as it did. This recipe was also a great way to use up some of the vegetables I'd bought a week or so ago, and that were sitting in my fridge looking for a home. It is rewarding to me to see that it is possible to create a mostly locally-sourced dish.

I'd shelled my own peas that I'd bought at Migliorelli Farm (and brought back the pods for composting the next week). The asparagus had come from Terhune Orchard, which might also be the same source for the lone garlic ramp, I can't remember exactly. My go-to source for herbs when they are at the market is Stokes Farm. I picked up the basil there, some of the first I've seen this year. Lynn Haven Goat Farm has gorgeous logs of goat cheese, some with herbs and some without. I've cooked with their product before, and it has produced excellent and flavorful results. Even the butter I used to cook everything in came from the market, from Ronnybrook Farm.

This is definitely a good, quick weeknight supper or a make-ahead, lunchbox treat. That's what I really like about making frittatas in general. They can be so flexible. A side salad of greens from one of the other market stalls, where lettuce is just exploding at this point in the season, along with a dessert of some early-season strawberries that are also all around, and you can keep up the local theme of this meal.

Buon appetito!

*The Greenmarket at Union Square in New York City is open on Mondays, Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays year-round, with some exceptions. For more information on this and the other greenmarkets in the city, you can go to: http://www.cenyc.org/greenmarket

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