Romanesco Frittata

A few weeks ago, I learned about the Mariquita Farm Mystery Thursdays from one of my favorite foodie blogs 101 cookbooks. Since our regular CSA boxes from Terra Firma Farm don’t usually come with extra-crazy vegetables and I’ve been wanting to explore some exotic ones, I convinced Nathan to try out a ‘mystery box’ from Mariquita. Lucky for us, the next delivery was scheduled for Incanto, one of our favorite neighborhood restaurants!

After handing over $25 on a drizzly night, we were handed a ginormous bag loaded with way over $25 worth of goodies, some of which definitely satisfied my exotic craving. We got a huge bag of baby carrots that look like they were just pulled out of the ground, a bunch of red(!) carrots, a few bunches of tatsoi, a couple heads of escarole, some tiny heads of little gem lettuce, a gnarly celery root, a few parsnip-like objects that turned out to be parsley roots, a few bunches of puntarelle (which came with the simple suggestion to dress them in a mustard-anchovy vinigarette – yum!), a winter squash, a romanesco, and a bag of red potatoes for good measure.

Our favorite item of the entire bag was this beautifully fractal yet slightly surreal romanesco:


After admiring it in our fridge for a few days, we finally decided to do something with it even though it really hurt to mess up such a lovely manifestation of a mathematical concept. But let’s say it’ll still be fractaly in our stomach, shall we? Part of the romanesco ended up in a simple pasta dish with red chile flakes, lemon, garlic, and plenty of olive oil. The other part ended up in a frittata. I used a sprig of green garlic that came in our regular CSA box but a small clove of normal garlic will be fine too. And of course, you can use any ‘sturdy’ vegetable you like in place of the romanesco – in the coming spring, asparagus would make a great frittata!

Will eating fractals make you better at math? I hope so!

5 eggs
2 tbsp heavy cream
1 tsp kosher salt
pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 small clove of garlic, chopped (or if you have green garlic, use 1 sprig)
enough romanesco florets (or whatever vegetable you’re using) in bite-sized pieces to cover the bottom of your skillet loosely
handful of grated pecorino (or parmesan) cheese

Preheat broiler and position a rack under it. Whisk together the first 4 ingredients and set aside.

Heat olive oil and butter in an oven-safe skillet (I used a cast-iron) over medium heat until butter melts. Add in the garlic and saute gently for a min or so until it softens.

Add romanesco plus a pinch of salt and saute for a few minutes until the florets start to soften. You can taste a floret or two to check their doneness. You want them slightly tender but not mushy, so it’ll provide a good texture counterpoint to the soft, fluffy eggs.

Arrange the florets in a single layer, then raise the heat to medium-high and add in egg mixture. Tilt the pan all around to spread the egg. I like to use my spatula to loosen the egg on the sides of the pan and tilt the pan to let more uncooked egg flow to the bottom of the pan.

Lower the heat to medium-low and let eggs cook for a few minutes until they start to set on top but are still quite jiggly.

Sprinkle with cheese, then transfer to the broiler. You want the broiler to melt the cheese and slightly brown the top of the frittata. This won’t take a long time, so just leave the oven door slightly open and keep an eye on it.

Once it’s done, remove from the oven and let the frittata rest in the pan for a couple minutes – it will deflate if it got puffy in the oven, which is ok since we’re not making a souffle. Then carefully, using a spatula, loosen the frittata from skillet and transfer to a plate. Slice into wedges and serve.

(Serves about 4 people for brunch/lunch)