21 July 2011

AUNTIE PASTA: Put an Egg On It

SARONNO, Italy – Tatiana and Andrea brought over some vegetables from their garden yesterday, including one I hadn’t seen before, a trumbetta di Albenga. It’s a strange looking vegetable, pale green like a zucchini, but longer and curvy with a bulbous end. 
Trombetta di Albegna and Homegrown Tomatoes
It’s a cross between a zucchini and a pumpkin,  an Italian heirloom vegetable not easily found in produce stores, especially here in Saronno. It wasn’t that long ago that the trombetta was on its way to extinction, but then the Slow Food Organization stepped in and shined their light on it by adding it to their of endangered vegetables. Now it’s making a comeback.
The trombetta is grown in Albenga - hence the name - which is a small town on the part of the Italian Riviera known as the Riviera delle Palme. Albenga is the agricultural center of Liguria as it is one of the few areas in that mountainous province where there is enough flat land to farm. 

Albenga is a very old town. It was granted a Roman municipium by Julius Caesar in the 1st century BC., and there are still several Roman sites nearby that you can visit.
Basketful of Trombetta di Albegna
For some reason the trombetta brought back memories of my father, who was a very creative cook. My daughter once said that we should write a cookbook using  his recipes and call it “Put An Egg on It”. It's a great idea and expresses perfectly his cooking philosophy. His modus operandi was to open the refrigerator, take out whatever he found, put it all in a frying pan with a little olive oil and garlic, and then ….. put a couple of eggs on it - ergo the name: Put An Egg on It. It was his special version of a very popular Italian dish, the frittata. 

So I decided to follow in my father’s footsteps and make a trombetta frittata for lunch today. The beauty of a frittata is that you can make them with just about anything. I would not, however, recommend using left over beef stew or pickles, two bad choices my father used to make, but just about anything else is acceptable.

Frittata with Trombetta di Albenga
1  trombetta di Albenga
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
1 medium size onion, chopped, but not finely chopped
3/4 cup cooked white rice (optional)
4 eggs
1/4 cup  grated parmigiano cheese
1/4-1/2 teaspoon marjoram or tarragon
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and Pepper Q.B.

Thinly slice the trombetta. In a frying pan put  3tablespoon of olive oil with 2 cloves of garlic. Add the chopped onions let them cook while you slice the trombetta into thin disks. Add the sliced trombetta to the frying pan. When the trombetta is cooked, add the rice and let it heat through. 

In the meantime, beat the four eggs with the ¼ cup of parmigiano cheese. When the rice is heated, add the egg and cheese mix to the frying pan. Mix the egg into the rice so it doesn’t just sit on the top, and let it cook covered for about 5 minutes. Spring about ¼ to ½ teaspoon of marjoram, or tarragon over the top of the frittata. 

How long it actually takes depends on the ratio of egg to rice, so you have look at it and decide if it is cooked to your taste. If not, cook it a little longer, or turn it over to better cook the topside. You do this by placing a large plate over the frittata and turning the frying pan upside down. The slide the frittata back into the frying pan and cook it for another couple of minutes. It should not be overcooked as it will dry out. Serve it warm or room temperature. 
 The Real Deal
To go along with the frittata, I made a simple salad with Andrea's tomatoes using only olive oil and my coveted, super delicious balsamic vinegar, and some crusty rustic bread. Buon Appetito 

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