Thursday, May 5, 2011

Deborah Madison's Spinach Frittata: or, Friends with Chickens

At the beginning of the academic year, I acquired a new office neighbor. This was a good thing, as my office is on the third floor of an old house, tucked under the eaves, and for company, I was reduced to calling across what once had been an attic playroom to my colleague on the other side. But then, the empty office next to mine was suddenly populated, and first, I had a neighbor, and after not very long, I had a new friend. (Hi Beth!)

Beth has been a lovely new friend. (She, in fact, was the one who suggested that I go to Navdanya in January!) But in addition to all of her fine qualities, there's another thing: she has chickens. I heard last fall about the building of the chicken coop and the acquisition of 8 hens. I heard about the months in which those 8 chickens, expensively settled into their expensive coop, showed little interest in laying eggs. But then, at long last, they began to lay eggs, just in time for our winter from hell, and then I heard stories of Beth's 8 year old daughter going out to feed the chickens and coming back with frozen hair while reporting that the chicken's water was also frozen. Ah, the joys of outdoor animals in a New England winter!

But through it all, those intrepid hens kept laying eggs. And some of the eggs laid by Tiny, Chinchilinna, Bindi, Fluffy, Hannah, and Fluffy-Lucky-Dr.Dufenschwartz found their way to me. (I am sad to report that of the original 8, Dora was lost to a skunk and Nemo to a hawk; Beth would probably like me point out that 1) her 2 daughters named the chickens and 2) they will stay away from Disney names in future.)

Over the past few months, I've scrambled the eggs and poached them and made them into egg salad. I've put them in quiche and custard and Deborah Madison's chard and onion torta. And yesterday, I had 3 eggs left from the last batch Beth had given me, and I made this frittata.

This frittata has much to recommend it--it's easy and quick, filling and delicious. And if this happens to be early May and new spinach and green onions are readily available at the farmers' market, even better. Although I always like spinach and cheddar together, I used the goat cheese called for in the recipe and was not sorry. The whole thing was done very quickly. You can mix together the eggs while the spinach is cooking down, and as long as the heat is low, you can go off and do other things for the 8 or so minutes that the frittata is cooking. When the mingled and yummy smell of green onions and goat cheese begins to permeate your kitchen, you'll know it's almost done.

Meanwhile, I brought an empty egg carton to work and left it meaningfully on Beth's desk. I'm already plotting what Chinchilinna and co.'s next offerings will become.

Spinach Frittata
from Vegetarian Suppers from Deborah Madison's Kitchen

8 to 10 ounces baby spinach leaves
2 tbsp. butter
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
4 eggs
2 scallions, including 3 inches of greens, thinly sliced
3 ounces crumbled firm goat cheese

1. Put the spinach in a large skillet with a teaspoon or so of the butter, season with a few pinches of salt, and add a tablespoon of water to create a little steam. Cook over medium heat until wilted and tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and chop coarsely.

2. Whisk the eggs in a medium bowl with several pinches of salt and some pepper. Stir in the scallions, cheese and spinach.

3. Melt the remaining butter in a 10-inch nonstick skillet. When it foams, swirl it around the pan, coating the sides. Add the eggs, reduce the heat to low, then cover the pan and cook until golden and puffed, about 8 minutes. If, at this time, it's cooked to your tasted, slide it out onto a serving plate without turning it over. If you like your eggs cooked more firmly, slide the frittata onto a plate, invert the skillet over it, then, grasping both the plate and the skillet in your hands, invert the whole thing. Cook the second side for a few more minutes, then slide the frittata onto the plate, cut into quarters and serve.

Serves 2-4, depending on what else you're serving and how hungry you are.


lisa said...

Mmmm... I do love a frittata. And with fresh eggs? Divine. Our farmer's market just opened so I'm hoping to find some there this weekend, maybe some garlic scapes to add to the mix as well. Thanks for reminding me of a meal that requires very little work!

Nicole said...

I've never had frittata and the one you posted here looks pretty tasty! Thanks for posting the recipe. I have little time to cook but would love to try it at a restaurant somewhere.

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