Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy
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Lidia Matticchio Bastianich is the author of five previous books, four of which have been accompanied by nationally syndicated public television series. She is the owner of the hugely successful New York City restaurant Felidia, among others, and she lectures on Italian cuisine throughout the country. She lives on Long Island, New York.
Tanya Bastianich Manuali received her Ph.D. in Renaissance art history from Oxford University. Since 1996 she has led food/wine/art tours to Italy. She lives in New York City.
1 pound fresh, thin asparagus spears
4 ounces prosciutto or bacon, thick slices with ample fat (about 4 slices)
1/2 pound scallions
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt, or more to taste
8 large eggs
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
A sturdy 12-inch nonstick skillet with a cover
A heat-proof rubber spatula
Serves 4 as a light meal or 6 as an appetizer
This is a different sort of frittata, not the neat golden round of well-set eggs that's probably most familiar. Here the eggs are in the skillet for barely a minute, just long enough to gather in soft, loose folds, filled with morsels of asparagus and shreds of prosciutto. In fact, when I make this frittata or the "dragged" eggs—uova strapazzate, page 143—I leave my eggs still wet and glistening so I can mop up the plate with a crust of country bread. That's the best part of all.
Snap off the tough bottom stubs of the asparagus, peel the bottom few inches of each spear, and cut them crosswise in 1 1/2-inch pieces. Slice prosciutto or bacon into strips, or lardoons, about 1 inch long and 1/3 inch wide. Trim the scallions, and cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces.
Pour the olive oil into the skillet, scatter in the lardoons, and set over medium heat. When the strips are sizzling and rendering fat, toss in the cut asparagus, and roll and toss them over a few times. Cover the skillet, and cook, still over moderate heat, shaking the pan occasionally, until the asparagus is slightly softened, 5 minutes or so.
Scatter the scallion pieces in the pan, season with a couple pinches of salt, and toss the vegetables and lardoons together. Cover the skillet, and cook, shaking the pan and stirring occasionally, until the scallions and asparagus are soft and moist, 7 or 8 minutes more. Meanwhile, beat the eggs thoroughly with the remaining salt and generous grinds of black pepper.
When the vegetables are steaming in their moisture, uncover the skillet, raise the heat, and cook, tossing, for a minute or so, until the water has evaporated and the asparagus and scallions seem about to color.
Quickly spread them out in the pan, and pour the eggs over at once. Immediately begin folding the eggs over with the spatula, clearing the sides and skillet bottom continuously, so the eggs flow and coagulate around the vegetables and lardoons.
When all the eggs are cooked in big soft curds—in barely a minute—take the skillet off the heat. Tumble the frittata over a few more times to keep it loose and moist. Spoon portions onto warm plates, and serve hot and steaming.
Excerpted from Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy: A Feast of 175 Regional Recipes by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich, Tanya Bastianich Manuali
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