Farmers Market Frittata

I was shocked and, frankly, dismayed this morning when I looked at our calendar and saw that this coming week has NO free nights. While that in itself isn't unusual, it is unusual that I have left zero cooking nights at home for me and, thus, have no reason to go to the weekly farmers market. How sad.

But we went to the market anyway, if for no other reason than to take in the ambiance. And - this may not surprise you - we ended up buying quite a bit of food! Yes, for a week with no meals to plan. What were we thinking?

Our 'loot' included some beautiful "Purple Passion" asparagus (I had never seen it before), a bunch of sweet young leeks, some Arizona Sweets oranges, beautiful brown eggs, a round of goat cheese, a couple of baby English cucumbers and a slice of almond brioche from the French bakery (just so that we didn't faint from malnourishment).

It was a beautiful morning - clear and crisp, which is very unusual for this time of year in the desert. We ran into friends, caught up with our favorite purveyors and were glad to see some vendors returning to the market as we get into the summer growing season.

Most of the food we bought today became our brunch. The only survivors are the two cukes, which are for healthy snacking later in the day. (The brioche - actually it was more of a slice of pain perdu - was our appetizer.)

I came home and right away started making a frittata. I don't often make them, and I am not able to give any good reason as to why. They are simple, very tasty and a great vehicle for leftovers, although not in this case. Today, most of the ingredients are fresh from the market.

The asparagus and leek frittata, seasoned with some preserved lemon zest we made last winter (recipe will follow frittata recipe), was delicious. I loved getting little bursts of lemon, and the herbed goat cheese that Mark made was a great addition. This recipe serves four quite amply but I have to admit that the two of us ate the whole thing.

This is a great basic recipe that can be adjusted to your palette, or for whatever you can find at the market or is leftover in your refrigerator. My one bit of advice is to make sure that whatever you sauté before adding the eggs isn't soupy, otherwise you will have trouble getting the eggs to set.

Here are some good add-in ideas for frittatas: squash (all types), bell peppers, peas, onions, potatoes, carrots, eggplant, tomatoes (seeded), smoked salmon, leftover bits of chicken, bacon, and herbs - and I am sure there are many more that you can think of. We once even used leftover pasta with a butter sauce as the basis of our frittata!

After cooking this morning, I felt much better knowing that, faced with a week of nights out and no kitchen time, there is light at both ends of the tunnel... my frittata today, and then a birthday dinner with friends at home next Sunday! (Stay tuned for the Torta al Gianduia next week!It was a great birthday cake for Pat.)

~ David

Asparagus and Leek Frittata

2 tablespoons butter
2 small leeks, white and light green parts, sliced
1 pound fresh asparagus, sliced on the diagonal
3 pieces preserved lemon zest (recipe follows), minced
6 eggs
2 tablespoons goat cheese, crumbled
salt and pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

In a 10-inch nonstick skillet, melt the butter and sauté the leek for several minutes, until soft. Add the asparagus and preserved lemon zest and continue to sauté until asparagus is al dente - about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, beat the eggs and then crumble in the goat cheese (I used Mark's herbed goat cheese) and season with salt and pepper. 

Preheat broiler to high and adjust broiler rack to be about 4 or 5 inches from the element. 

When asparagus is cooked, pour egg and cheese mixture over top. Continue to cook on the stove top over medium-high heat until eggs are almost set. Sprinkle top evenly with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and broil for about 3 minutes until top is golden and puffed.

Slice into wedges and serve with a salad and orange wedges.

Serves 4.

Preserved Lemon Zest

4 lemons, scrubbed, preferably organic
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup sugar
8 fresh bay leaves, coarsely chopped or crushed, divided
2 dried chile pods, split open and coarsely chopped, divided
Extra-virgin olive oil

Remove the zest from the lemons with a vegetable peeler (be careful not to take off too much of the white pith) and place in a small bowl. Juice one of the lemons and set juice aside. (Juice the other thee lemons and reserve juice for another purpose.) Toss zest with the salt, sugar, 4 bay leaves, 1 chile, and the juice of one of the lemons. Refrigerate for 2 hours. Remove the zest from the mixture, rinse, pat dry, and place in a glass jar. Add in remaining 4 bay leaves and chile. Cover with extra-virgin olive oil to store in the refrigerator for up to a year. (Zest will begin to brown with age but that is normal…)


  1. I love frittata's made with anything you have in the fridge, garden, or in your case, pick up at the markets. Every time it is different, every time it has a new story attached to it! Love the recipe for your preserved lemon zest, going to make this on the weekend!

  2. Great minds think alike. :) I am having friends for brunch this AM and had bought asparagus, goat cheese, and eggs to make an omelette. I will use your recipe to tweak that idea for the better. Thanks!

  3. Anna - the lemon zest is fantastic and I use it in so many things - soups, risotti, vegetable dishes, rubs - you name it! I also love Moroccan preserved lemons, but find I use the zest more on a regular basis.

    Kirsten - I hope you like the frittata! Your guests, too! So simple and tasty!

  4. oh my. Purple asparagus! I haven't come across these yet. So beautiful!

  5. Anh - I love all the purple vegetables that one can get these days - purple cauliflower, purple broccoli and now purple asparagus! Maybe it is in my mind, but I think they taste sweeter!

  6. David, my frittatas never turn out as good as your frittata looks! I will look forward to trying your recipe. And, the lemon zest, too! There is always something good on your table--no matter which table it is!

  7. Susan - how different is your recipe for frittatas? I am curious as this is a new thing for me these days! You need to make the lemon zest - get over to the Golden Harvest and get some organic lemons - you won't regret this!


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