To follow my last post focused on fresh greens and salad-centric dishes, this page is inspired by protein. I had a great weekend spent with old friends, the kind that represents all that is summer- rafting along lazy rivers, simultaneous bocce and frisbee games on the lawn, bonfires and grill outs. Luckily, I have foodie friends, and there was no lack of garden-inspired cuisine. But as the sole veg of the group, my plate often lacked the protein punch. For a meal or two this often feels good to me, but by Sunday night I had a craving. Eggs.
Luckily, we are in no short supply of farm-fresh eggs around these parts. It seems like almost everyone I know has backyard chickens, running around grub-filled fields and feasting on natures goodness. Cage-free, pasture raised chickens produce eggs full of nutrients that the factory farm eggs lack. Significantly higher in omega-3's fatty acids, vitamins A, D and E as well as beta-carotene and lower in cholesterol and saturated fat, chickens raised on pasture benefit from the bright green clover and alfalfa grasses, foraged insects and worms as well as seeds and hay. You can often see this manifest in the deep orange hues of the yolk, where the majority of the nutrition lies. This is a far cry from the often genetically modified corn, soy and cottonseed meals that caged chickens are fed. Add that to their active lifestyles and natural habits, and you have some much happier and healthier birds. Well worth the extra dollar or two a dozen.
So anyway, eggs are one of my favorite protein sources, given their nutrition, local prowess, and price-point. As a tribute to the age old "breakfast for dinner" tradition, frittatas are one of the easiest ways to create a stunningly delicious meal with seasonal ingredients and high-quality protein. Some of my favorite combinations are mushroom broccoli and manchego, sweet potato red onion and cheddar, and black bean sungold tomato and chèvre. The fresh herbs (a must) can vary according to the flavor profile you choose- same with the spices and garnishes. I like to serve mine with a simple fresh green salad on the side, along with some roasted roots for a full meal (think parsnips, yams, new potatoes and carrots).
1 tbs. sunflower oil
½ cup onion, scallions or ramps, chopped
3 cups of seasonal vegetables and legumes, (sweet potato cubes, broccoli, bell pepper, mushrooms, black beans, lentils etc.)
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups of spinach or other hearty green, finely chopped
1 dozen farm fresh eggs
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
2 tbs. fresh herbs (basil, parsley, cilantro, dill) or ½ tsp dried herb (rosemary, thyme)
1/2 cup cheese of choice (chevre, cheddar, manchego, feta, fresh mozzarella)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Heat a large oven proof skillet over medium heat (you can check out my baby pictured to the right). Add sunflower oil and swirl to coat. Add onions and cook until translucent. Add chopped seasonal vegetables, in order according to cooking time (potatoes first, then mushrooms, then peppers/broccoli etc.) and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft but not mushy. Add legumes (if using), garlic and greens, cover and cook until wilted.
In the meantime, crack 12 eggs into a medium bowl. Add salt and pepper and whip until blended. Add fresh herbs and hot sauce/chili flakes if desired.
Pour egg mixture over vegetables and stir briefly to bring vegetables off the bottom of the pan and distribute egg throughout. Top with cheese of choice and cook over medium heat, covered, until eggs are set on the bottom. Uncover, and transfer to the middle-upper rack of the oven. Cook for an additional 10-20 minutes, until the middle is well set and the edges are beginning to brown. Remove, let sit for 5 minutes and serve.
Relax. Eat Well.