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Artichoke and Leek Frittata

Maneuvering past the floor stacks of olive oil and shelves crammed with dried imported pasta, shoppers in San Francisco's Italian delis can always count on finding thick frittatas ready to be sliced for the customer on the go. A frittata is easy to make at home, requiring less dexterity than an omelette and allowing more leisurely timing. What's more, frittatas are just as good at room temperature as they are straight from the pan. Leftover frittata, sliced and layered in a baguette with a little mayonnaise, makes a wonderful sandwich. The artichoke farms in nearby Monterey County harvest much of the year, but spring is peak season.

Serve with a light white wine, such as a Chenin Blanc, or with a sparkling wine.

Ingredients:

  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 8 baby artichokes, each about 2 oz.
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 2 cups thinly sliced leeks, white and pale
     green parts only (2 to 3 medium leeks)
  • 6 eggs
  • 1⁄4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 2 Tbs. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions:

Fill a bowl with cold water and add the lemon juice. Working with 1 artichoke at a time, peel back the tough outer leaves until they break off at the base. Keep removing leaves until you reach the tender, pale green heart. Cut about 1/4 inch off the top of the heart to remove the pointed leaf tips. Pare the stem and trim the base to remove any dark green parts. Immediately drop the trimmed hearts into the lemon water to prevent browning.

Bring a pot three-fourths full of water to a boil over high heat. Salt the boiling water, then drain the trimmed artichoke hearts and add them to the water. Boil until tender when pierced with a knife, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain and transfer to a bowl of ice water; when cool, drain again. Cut the artichokes in half lengthwise, then cut lengthwise into slices 1/4 inch thick. Pat them dry.

In a 10-inch ovenproof nonstick fry pan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add the leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in the artichokes, season with salt and pepper, and cook the vegetables together for 2 minutes to infuse them with the seasonings.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, cheese and parsley just until blended. Add the egg mixture to the pan and stir for just a few seconds to distribute the vegetables evenly. Reduce the heat to low and cook slowly, uncovered, until the eggs are almost completely set, 15 to 20 minutes. The eggs may still be a little moist in the center.

Meanwhile, preheat a broiler and position a rack about 8 inches from the heat source. When the eggs are ready, slip the pan in the broiler and broil until the top is lightly colored and the center is firm to the touch. Remove from the broiler and, using a rubber or silicone spatula, loosen the edges of the frittata, and then slide it carefully onto a serving platter. Serve warm, not hot; cut into wedges.
Serves 4.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Foods of the World Series, San Francisco, by Janet Fletcher (Oxmoor House, 2004).