Asparagus and Sweet Pea Frittata With Minty Spring Salad

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Fresh spring asparagus and peas add a sweet, tender crunch to this simple frittata. [Photographs: Daniel Gritzer]

I learned a valuable lesson about priorities this past weekend. You see, in the days leading up to it, all I could think about was the fresh local asparagus and peas that are due any moment. In particular, I was dreaming of making a simple frittata with them to celebrate their arrival. On Sunday, I headed over to my local farmer's market hoping to find what I needed.

But I had decided that this was going to be an extra-productive outing, so I also took along a massive bag of coins I'd been saving for the past several years to exchange for cash. And since the coins were heavy, I went to the bank first. When I finally got to the farmers' market, I made a beeline for the main produce stand, where I spied a little white paper sign that read, Asparagus. And below it, a pair of kindly-old-lady hands lifting the very last bunch from the table.

Clearly, I'm doing something wrong when even the elderly birds are beating me to the worm.

Unable to shake my longing for those spring vegetables, I loaded up on some beautiful pea tendrils as a consolation and then headed to the supermarket—disappointed, but not defeated—to buy everything else for my frittata.

The thing I love most about frittatas is that they're unfussy. You can cook them from start-to-finish in one pan, they're as good a breakfast as they are a light lunch or dinner, and there's no rush getting them to the table because they're also as good at room temperature as they are hot (actually, I think they taste best at room temp). Plus, you can easily feed several people all at once with a single frittata, but you can also make a whole one for yourself and enjoy it in slices throughout the day and, if it magically lasts, into the next.

Making my frittata was a relatively simple process. As I recently learned, beating salt into eggs in advance can actually help make them more tender (or, at the very least, doesn't hurt them), so I did that first and then let them sit while I prepped the vegetables for the frittata.

Once I had all the vegetables ready, I sautéed diced onion in a little olive oil until it was translucent, then added peas and diced pieces of asparagus.

The peas can be fresh or frozen, but I'd suggest fresh only when you can find really small sweet ones (generally, that means peas that have very recently been picked). Otherwise, frozen usually taste better. I cooked them all together until they were tender, but still had a fresh pop when you bit into them.

Then I added the eggs and begin stirring, just like making scrambled eggs.

Stirring is important for two reasons. First, it helps distribute the fillings throughout the frittata (otherwise, they're likely to sink to the bottom). Second, it helps cook the egg more evenly than if you were to just let it sit on the heat and cook from bottom to top. The key, though, is to stop stirring the eggs while they're still moist enough to set like a pancake; otherwise you'll end up with scrambled eggs, not a frittata (the good news is that's a mistake that still leads to delicious).

Stop stirring the eggs when they're still wet enough that the frittata will set as a solid mass, and not end up like scrambled eggs.

A lot of recipes have you turn the half-cooked frittata onto a plate, then slide it back into the pan to cook the other side. In my mind, that's a frittata-on-the-floor waiting to happen. Instead, I turn my broiler on and slide the pan under it to firm up the top side. Once the frittata is set on both sides, I generally find it pretty easy to turn it out onto a plate. It's a good idea to check that it isn't stuck to the pan by gently sliding a spatula around and underneath the frittata before executing the plate-flip.

Frittatas don't always come out of the pan this nicely. When they don't, just flip them over to hide the damage.

I served my frittata with a light, fresh salad that I made with shaved asparagus, mint leaves, and the pea tendrils I'd bought. Those can sometimes be hard to find, but any tender lettuce would work well in their place.

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