Easter in Italy is second only to Christmas as a highly celebrated religious holiday. It seems that every town and city has its own special way of recognizing the idea of rebirth and the coming of spring.
As with every holiday, in my opinion, whether religious or otherwise, the best part of the event is the food. Here in California, spring beckons with yellow flowers, pink blossoms and early spring produce. This recipe highlights asparagus, artichokes, spinach and arugula, all beginning to make an appearance at the farmers markets.
Umbria, the home of Assisi, celebrates Easter with pomp and circumstance. (read about it here and here.) This Frittata Pasquale is served in Umbria for Easter brunch and usually contains pancetta, salame or other Italian meats. This is my vegetarian version. I hope you enjoy it however you celebrate the coming of spring. It is perfect for an Easter Sunday brunch or any brunch, for that matter. It can be served as a main dish or on the side.
Some notes to the cook:
How to clean, cut and prepare an artichoke heart:
One of my favorite go-to websites for cooking advice is Serious Eats. They put together visual instructions for cleaning and prepping an artichoke. You can watch Chef Daniel Gritzer here.
What to do with the artichoke leaves? I hate to waste food, so I just drop the artichoke leaves in boiling water for 10 minutes and enjoy them dipped in a little butter and scrape them over my teeth. (You know the drill.)
Herb paste: I have been having fun with fresh herb medleys and adding them to different dishes. For this frittata, I used fresh sage, mint, thyme, basil and rosemary. Gather 1/2 cup of fresh herbs, smoosh them together in a mortar and pestle, and mix with 2 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil until a paste is formed. Use generously!
Enjoy for Sunday brunch.
- 5 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 yellow onion, minced
- 1 whole garlic clove
- 1/2 cup fresh herbs: a mixture of: thyme, basil, rosemary, mint and sage
- 2 – 3 fresh artichoke hearts, thinly sliced (see instructions above)
- juice of 1 lemon
- 6 – 7 asparagus stalks, with woody ends cut off
- 3 cups fresh arugula
- 2 cups fresh spinach or 1/2 cup frozen
- 4 eggs
- salt and pepper
- a few radicchio leaves (optional)
- Clean and prepare artichoke hearts as instructed above. Slice the hearts into thin slices and keep in ice water with lemon to retain color.
- Using a mortar and pestle or food processor, grind fresh herbs with 2 Tablespoons olive oil to form a paste.
- Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil in a large saucepan and add garlic and onion. Cook on medium for 2-3 minutes until fragrant. Add artichoke hearts and asparagus. Cook for 5 minutes until artichoke is just soft. Remove garlic clove.
- Add herb paste, arugula and spinach. Stir well and heat for 3-4 more minutes until the greens are wilted.
- Remove from heat and add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
- Add beaten eggs and stir well.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large cast iron saucepan and add frittata. Cook until bottom is set, about 2 – 3 minutes, making sure it does not get too brown on the bottom. Turn over and cook briefly until set, about 2 more minutes. Serve on a bed of radicchio. This dish can be served hot or cold. Buona Pasqua!