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Food

A Deluxe Asparagus Frittata, Topped With Burrata

Posted May 1, 2018 4:34 p.m. EDT

Let’s talk about the differences between a frittata and an omelet, but not dwell on them. And let’s praise burrata, that cream-filled Italian cheese, but not get hung up on it.

Many people consider the savory Italian frittata to be a flat omelet. But who’s to say omelets can’t be flat, as they often are in the South of France? And why should the classic filled and folded French omelet have a reason to claim or disclaim any relationship to the frittata, other than the fact that both are made from beaten eggs?

For our purposes, let’s say a frittata is a mixture of whisked eggs cooked in a frying pan. It can be thick or thin, flipped and cooked entirely in the pan, finished in the oven or under the broiler, or prepared in a baking dish. (It can also be depressingly dry and overcooked, but that’s not our goal here.) A frittata is a perfect light lunch or supper accompanied by a rather large mixed-green salad — an easy standby when you don’t feel like cooking.

These days, I tend to take the less-is-more approach, with a few herbs and just a bit of cheese, maybe some briefly cooked spinach or asparagus. This recipe, however, goes in the direction of more-is-more, topped just before serving with the creamy burrata and drizzled with an herb-laden pesto.

Get real burrata, straight from Italy, if it is available fresh (but check the expiration date). Otherwise, look for domestic burrata, made with cow’s milk instead of the traditional buffalo milk. Remove it from its brine, and hold it at room temperature. (Or if you can’t get burrata, use some thick slices of ultra-fresh mozzarella.)

Top each serving with about 2 ounces burrata. Most burrata is sold in 8-ounce parcels, so I often plop the ball in the center of the frittata before cutting it. The tip of a knife will cause the heady filling to burst forth, to be spooned around.

Paired with a bottle of chilled Italian white, this frittata is positively deluxe.

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RECIPE:

Asparagus Frittata With Burrata and Herb Pesto

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Total time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

1 small bunch medium asparagus, tough bottoms removed

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup basil leaves, plus a few small basil leaves for garnish

1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

8 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 ball of fresh burrata, about 1/2 pound, at room temperature

Preparation:

1. Rinse asparagus, and pat dry. Cut into 1-inch pieces on the diagonal, or into julienne strips if preferred. Set aside.

2. In blender or small food processor, puree olive oil, basil and parsley to make a thin pesto. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Put a 10-inch cast-iron skillet or other nonstick omelet pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add butter and swirl to coat pan, then add asparagus. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring for about a minute without browning.

4. Quickly pour in eggs and stir with a wooden spoon, as if making scrambled eggs. Tilt pan and lift mixture at the edges to allow any runny egg from the top to make its way to the bottom. After 3 or 4 minutes, the frittata should be mostly set. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

5. Lay a lid over the skillet, and turn off the heat. Leave for a minute or so, until frittata is moist and just done. (Alternatively, place pan under a hot broiler for a minute or so.)

6. Set whole burrata in the center of frittata. Drizzle with herb pesto. Pierce burrata with tip of a knife and spoon contents over frittata. Cut frittata into wedges and serve directly from pan, garnished with basil leaves.