At first, we weren’t sure if we’d post this, as we’ve written up a Frittata before, and, really, once you’ve made one frittata, you pretty much know how to make any other. But, then we thought, there might be someone out there who’s just picked up a bunch of amaranth greens at his or her CSA and is desperately looking for a recipe, any recipe, to use those greens, and all he or she finds is the old standard for every type of green on the planet: sauté them in olive oil with garlic and a pinch of red pepper. Ugh. How many times can you eat that?
Amaranth greens are often thought of as weeds, so you generally don’t see them in the stores here in the US except, perhaps, in Mexican stores, where they’ll be known as quelites. They’re nice, because they’re one of the few greens that will grow well right through the middle of a desert summer (another is portulaca, which we prefer). So, if you want some fresh, local, leafy greens in the southwest, these are what you’ll find.
Normally, when amaranth greens show up in our CSA share, we try to trade them for something we prefer, but, then, sometimes, as happened this week, we end up with a bunch. They’re not bad-tasting; raw, they taste sort of, well, green. You might think that isn’t providing any information, but have you ever chewed on a piece of grass? Grass tastes green, which might give you some idea about amaranth greens. They’re okay, but nothing about them stands out. When cooked — especially if just sautéed — they seem even less impressive as a green. Now, we know that isn’t a ringing endorsement, but, if you’re curious, give them a try; you might like amaranth.
Obviously, any bunch of greens will work for this recipe. Or any vegetable, for that matter. Whatever you choose, just fry them in the skillet until they’re tender and thoroughly cooked. For eggs, we only use eggs that come from free-ranging hens: Josh’s Foraging Fowls. We’ve seen the hens as they peck and scratch, eating bugs and grass, and we know it makes a difference in the way the eggs taste. We think the difference is significant enough that we’ll not go back to commercial eggs.
Procedure in detail:
Cook alliums. Onions and their relatives (the genus Allium) are the hardest-working vegetables on the planet. They seem to start every savory dish, including this one. So, heat the oil in a large oven-proof skillet over medium heat (we’ll place it under the broiler in a few minutes). Once hot, add the onions, sprinkle with a bit of kosher salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until they start to become tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook, stirring until fragrant, another minute.
Add greens. Spread the greens over the onions, sprinkle with a bit more salt and pepper, if desired, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the greens are wilted and the stems are tender, about 5 minutes.
Mix custard. While the greens are cooking, whisk together the eggs and heavy cream in a small bowl. Sprinkle in a bit of salt and pepper, and whisk in.
Cook custard. The greens are tender and the custard is whisked and ready. Reduce heat to low, pour the custard over the greens, swirling the pan, if needed, to cover the greens. If some greens don’t get covered, don’t worry. It’s all good. Let the custard cook until it’s mostly set, about 7 minutes. It’s fine if the custard is still soft on top as it’ll finish off under the broiler.
Add cheese. Sprinkle grated cheese in an even layer across the frittata.
Broil. Place the frittata under the broiler and broil until the eggs set completely and the cheese gets all melted, bubbly, and begins to brown. This happens very quickly, so either check often or expect to have burned frittata. Serve immediately, and make sure to cover the handle of the pan with a hot pad when you take it out of the oven, lest someone grab the handle without thinking (been there, done that; now we cover the handle).
We were pleasantly surprised. We didn’t expect that our amaranth frittata would be great, but it was. We knew it would be good, but we thought it would just be kind of bland. Instead, the amaranth became slightly sweeter, tasting more like spinach, and actually adding some flavor to our frittata. We figure that this might be our go-to method of using amaranth when we pick it up a the CSA (although, just between us, we’ll still be willing to trade it, especially for okra). Five stars.