Weeknight Vegetarian: A frittata to sing about

Deb Lindsey/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST - Ricotta Frittata With Spring Vegetables, an easy dinner with endless possibilities.

Finally, seasonal vegetables other than winter greens and radishes! Besides asparagus, there’s now green garlic and ramps — and soon enough there will be fresh shelling peas. After such a long windup, the sight of my favorite spring vegetable makes me want to break into song — and to break a few eggs. To me, nothing goes better with these young, tender, sometimes wild-foraged ingredients, so my preferred lunch or dinner when I’ve collected a bounty of them is a frittata.

Any vegan readers will have to give me a pass this week, because there’s really no substitute for those golden-yolked orbs, IMO. For ovo-lacto vegetarians (or carnivores who don’t mind skipping the meat), a frittata is one of the easiest ways to pull a dinner together I can think of, and one of the most satisfying, too.

VIENNA, VA, JANUARY 9, 2013: Winter salad of shaved cucumber, radish and endive with lemon vinaigrette. Dishware courtesy of Crate & Barrel. (Photo by ASTRID RIECKEN For The Washington Post)

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My go-to method involves a cast-iron skillet and the broiler. Use the former to saute the vegetables, then scrape them out to make room for the eggs. After the frittata is almost set, sprinkle the cooked produce on top before sliding the skillet under the broiler to finish.

It’s a technique more than a recipe, really, which means that if you’re frustrated trying to find ramps, or you don’t want to pay top dollar for them at markets, or you can’t get your hands on green garlic (those immature stalks that haven’t developed full bulbs yet), you can put just about anything else you like on those whisked eggs. Scallions and garlic are a good substitute for ramps, which are also members of the allium family. Other possibilities: sliced potatoes, fava beans, parsley and, if you’re not sick of them yet, winter greens and radishes. (Morels are also around, but those command a premium, so my preference is to simply cook them in the best butter I can find and sprinkle them with smoked sea salt.)

Until recently, my cheese of choice (here’s the lacto!) for a frittata was feta, until I saw a Lidia Bastianich recipe for one with ricotta. Now I put dollops of smooth, rich ricotta (whole milk, of course) right on top, creating a dish whose name sounds like it could have been a song in “The Lion King.” If “hakuna matata” means “no worries,” then I suppose Ricotta Frittata could mean “no worries, it’s spring.”

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