Bagna Cauda

Summer is here, and I can't remember the last day I wanted to spend time outside. Spending time in a hot kitchen has been low on the list of things I'd like to do, too. So lately I'm trying to get to the greenmarket before it gets too hot out, and all the produce I'm picking up is getting minimal treatment. And I'm refusing to turn on the oven. Vegetables are mostly being treated to quick sautés, or turned into shaved salads. I'm also trying to make the most of a pot of boiling water -- blanching French green beans, fava beans, cranberry beans, and fresh chickpeas before I boil new potatoes. That way all those things sit in my fridge, ready to be added to whatever I want. 

Since I've been so lazy about cooking, bagna cauda has been coming in more than handy. It's one of my favorite things to eat, and it really couldn't be easier. Most importantly, it means the only work I need to do is prep some vegetables to dip into it. 

On one of the last spring days, when asparagus was still at the market, my friend Laura and I made this simple feast out of greenmarket goods: ciabatta from Hot Bread Kitchen, produce from our favorite farmers, and a very anchovy-y batch of bagna cauda. We also threw together April Bloomfield's radish salad, but more on that another time.

I never use a recipe for bagna cauda. Just simmer as many anchovy fillets and cloves of garlic you'd like in as much olive oil as you'd like (make sure the garlic cloves are submerged in the oil). When the anchovies break down, and the garlic is tender enough to break up with a spoon, turn off the heat and let it cool a little. Sprinkle with salt, then dip any vegetable you want into it.  

Green Almonds

I felt lucky to have gotten my hands on some green almonds this year.

I like to eat them whole -- they taste kind of like unripe nectarines, and I mean that in a good way -- but it's fun to open them up and have the delicate (mostly filled with liquid) young almond by itself. I've had them chopped up and added to salads, and I've read that they should be enjoyed with prosciutto and white peaches, but it'll be a while before white peaches are in season here.  If I happen to find any more this year, I'll try cooking them in olive oil with lemon and salt. 

Spring Frittata

Making use of the ramps and greens and mushrooms I picked up at the greenmarket last week. 

Spring Frittata

Three eggs

One medium sized shallot, diced or sliced into half-moons

Olive oil

Sea salt and black pepper

A handful of each:

  • Shitake Mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • Ramps, chopped
  • Spinach, cleaned and dried

Heat oven to 400ºF.

Whisk the eggs together in a bowl and set aside while you're cooking the vegetables.

In a small cast iron skillet sauté shallots (with a pinch of salt) until translucent, add mushrooms (and another pinch of salt) and cook until their liquid evaporates and they start to brown. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add more olive oil to the pan and sauté the ramps until tender. Set aside with the mushrooms and shallots. Make sure there is enough oil in the pan to cook the spinach until the liquid evaporates, add a little salt while you're at it. Add the other vegetables to the pan, give them a few stirs so they are evenly distributed. Pour the eggs over the vegetables and cook over medium-high heat until they're beginning to set. Move the skillet to the oven and bake until the eggs are set (no jiggling). 

Let the frittata cool to room temperature, slice into four pieces, and serve with a few grinds of fresh pepper, a sprinkling of flaky sea salt, and a little bit of olive oil.