Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Butternut and Spinach Frittata with Cream and Walnuts

Mmm, creamy, squashy, nutty ... superbly satisfying on a cold January evening, with a green salad and grapefruit wedges.

Crank's Bible is a rich compendium of intriguing combinations, and gives great consideration, in an easygoing way, to the pleasure of both eye and palette. I found this cookbook on a sale table some years ago, picked it up, put it down, walked off, walked back ... you know the drill.

I'd had this recipe marked for weeks, and, finally, the perfect evening for it arrived.  I used my CSA butternut squash cubes, previously frozen, and local Davis Farms walnuts, Pure Eire cream, and CG Ranch eggs.

Believe it or not, I took this recipe down by half.  Nadine Abensur's version was positively Bacchanalian, with a whole dozen eggs and a cup of cream!  I did, however, use her full amount of garlic, on my yet-to-be-disproven theory that in most savory dishes, garlic is always welcome.
Adapted from Crank's Bible, by Nadine Abensur

6 local eggs
1/2 cup Pure Eire cream
4 fat garlic cloves, or 8 smaller ones, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper

1 pound butternut squash cubes
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon tamari
Dash of Tabasco, or red curry paste, or ground chipotle

5 ounces spinach leaves, washed and big stems removed, or use baby spinach
About 1/4 cup walnut pieces, broken into large-ish pieces

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In small bowl, whisk eggs, cream, garlic, salt and pepper, and set aside to infuse.

In large bowl, toss squash cubes with olive oil, tamari and Tabsco, and spread on Silpat-lined cookie sheet.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until squash is fairly soft and edges have begun to carmelize.

Remove squash from oven, spread spinach leaves over squash, and stir the spinach in gently.  Return to oven for a few minutes, or until the spinach has wilted a bit.

Carefully spoon squash and spinach mixture onto a frittata pan or suitably sized ovenproof nonstick or seasoned cast iron skillet.  Heat over medium heat just until skillet is hot.  Pour egg mixture over squash, to fill out to edges of pan.

Now, you may either gently move the squash around, scraping with your spatula through to the pan bottom to allow egg mixture to fully cook, as the author did, or use my optional method of setting the frittata back into the oven, checking every few minutes to see if the eggs have gently set.  You don't want the frittata to get dry.

Sprinkle walnuts atop, and leave to set a while at room temperature.  Nadine Abensur says this gives it "time to settle and ease into itself."  (You see why I bought her cookbook?)

Serves 4 generously.

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