The city is quiet and grey with rain today. As much as I miss the sun we had last week, I’m also excited to put on rubber boots and take a walk through the first good spring rain. After my walk, I’ll slog into the kitchen tired and happy, ready for a simple dinner made with some of the first good spring produce. These warm and fluffy mini-frittatas need only 5 minutes of actual work, which is that much nicer for being done next to a preheating oven.
A frittata is an Italian baked omelet, and it’s very much like a crustless quiche. It can be filled with any variety of vegetable, meat, and cheese, and baked in a pie plate, cake pan, or cast iron skillet. Muffin cups frittatas have the advantage of baking quicker than their big brothers. This version uses fresh green vegetables to keep the taste light and seasonal, and bacon and smoked paprika for depth and warmth.
If nothing else, these little frittatas are a good excuse to use the oven on a rainy spring day. Serve with a green salad and a good book.
Asparagus, Ramps, and Bacon Mini-Frittatas
- 6 spears asparagus
- 2 slices bacon (I used Niman Ranch dry-cured bacon)
- 6 ramps
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika, also called pimentón de la vera (I used the agridulce, or bittersweet, variety)
First, preheat the oven to 350. If your bacon is raw, place it on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake until crisp, about 20 minutes. If your bacon is left over from Sunday brunch like mine, re-crisp it for about 5 minutes. Let bacon cool, then chop into 1/4-inch bits. (If you’re short on time, you can cook the bacon at the same time as the asparagus, on the same baking sheet if you don’t mind bacon-flavored asparagus. Just keep an eye on your bacon so it doesn’t burn, and flip it over after 10 minutes. It will need less cooking time at this temperature.)
To prepare the asparagus: Turn the oven up to 425. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the skin from the bottom 4 inches of each stalk, starting just above where the skin turns purple. You’ll need to pull the strands of skin off your peeler a few times. This gets rid of the stringy skin that interferes with asparagus enjoyment. Once peeled, you can see the woody white parts at the bottom. Snap these off. You can also remove the still-green ends of other stalks if they look tough. Asparagus bottoms break easily at the joint between the edible and inedible parts, so there’s no guesswork. Place the asparagus on an unlined baking sheet and toss with salt and pepper and 1tbs olive oil. Roast 20 minutes, remove and turn the oven down to 325. (I roasted a bundle of asparagus and reserved what I didn’t need for this recipe.) Cut the asparagus into 1-inch pieces.
Trim the roots from the ramps, rinse under cold water, and slip off the slimy skin covering the stems and bulbs. Mince the stems and bulbs, and make a chiffonade of the leaves (stack all the leaves together, and slice into 1/8-inch ribbons).
Make the custard: Whisk the eggs in a large liquid measuring cup (or a bowl) until foamy and uniform – don’t leave any yolk streaks or blobs of white. Slowly pour in the milk while whisking.
Assemble the frittatas: Lightly oil 6 1/4-cup muffin cups. Divide the asparagus, ramps, and bacon evenly amongst cups, and sprinkle each with a tiny bit of smoked paprika and a few grains of salt. Pour the custard into the cups, leaving 1/4-inch space at the top (a measuring cup with a spout makes this easier).
Bake at 325 about 15 minutes, until set. I recommend using an oven thermometer to determine the temperature. My oven, the loveable trickster, always gets 50° hotter than it says it is, and the left side is even hotter than the right. If they’re cooked too long, the frittatas will be rubbery, but you can prevent that even with the most tempermental oven simply by checking them every 5 minutes and turning if, say, the frittatas in the back are cooking faster than the ones in the front. Let cool 5 minutes, then run a dull knife around the edge of each frittata and turn them out of their cups onto a cutting board. Serves 2 as a main dish. Leftovers make a great breakfast, either on their own or as the filling in an english muffin sandwich. Frittatas can be rewarmed by heating 3 minutes per side in a nonstick skillet on the stove or in a toaster oven. Microwaves will make them rubbery, but if you’re hungry enough, you might not mind.