From Scratch: Fry up fresh asparagus spears with eggs


Kuku, tortilla, frittata, egg foo yung — every country seems to have its own version of this basic dish where eggs are mixed with other ingredients and cooked in a frying pan. It speaks, perhaps, to the ubiquity of eggs and leftovers. Because eggs don't have a strong flavor of their own, you can add almost anything and the combination will turn out well.

Springtime brings back memories of my mother's adaptation of this dish. I was well into my 30s before I realized that asparagus frocia was just the Sicilian variant of a frittata.

We had our own asparagus patch, and when they started coming in, there was no choice but to eat a lot of them as they don't freeze well. We ate them in some form five times a week. Usually on Fridays, my mother made an asparagus frocia.

Because the asparagus came fresh from the garden, there was no need to peel them and they cooked up in minutes. In fact, a few were usually eaten raw before they arrived in the house.

Right now, local asparagus are in abundance in York County. Succulent and tender, they are a popular vegetable that needs no press agent.

To judge the freshness of asparagus, look for a tightly closed top and juicy bottom. Many people think thin asparagus are more tender because they are younger, but this is a misconception. It is the age of the root bed that determines thickness. Freshness, not size, is the sign of tenderness.

Asparagus don't "die" when picked but continue to have metabolic activity. If not stored properly, they will wrinkle and harden. If you can't eat them right away, I find the best way to keep them fresh is to place them in a glass of water in the refrigerator.

The asparagus frocia comes together in less than 30 minutes. To begin, assemble the following ingredients:

Asparagus Frocia

1 pound asparagus, cut in 1-inch pieces

4 -5 eggs (depending on their size)

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, thinly sliced

1/2 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper

1 teaspoon fresh or dried basil

1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

In a 10-inch non-stick skillet, heat the olive oil over a medium flame and then add the sliced onions. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are softened, about 8 minutes.

In the meantime, put the asparagus in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, and cook for two minutes. Immediately drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

In a medium size bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk. Add the sauteed onions, cooked asparagus, basil, cheese, salt and pepper. Mix lightly.

Reheat the skillet and pour in the egg/asparagus mixture. Cook over medium heat until the eggs are set on the bottom.

Place a plate over the top of the skillet and invert. Slide the frocia back into the skillet and cook a few minutes more.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

— Julie Falsetti, a York native, comes from a long line of good cooks. Her column, From Scratch, runs twice monthly in The York Dispatch food section.