Dave’s veg­etable frit­tata

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Farmhouse Kitchen -

WE GO THROUGH pe­ri­ods of eat­ing just veg­eta­bles and eggs, es­pe­cially when we are at the beach. Frit­tata is a great way to in­ter­est the kids in veg­eta­bles, and if you keep chick­ens, a frit­tata is a tasty and use­ful way to use up lots of eggs.

Dave loves veg­eta­bles. He quite of­ten steams a whole cau­li­flower in a pot and eats it him­self. He says he al­ways feels bet­ter af­ter­wards.

I love cau­li­flower too, but I’d rather do some­thing a bit more ex­otic with it: cau­li­flower and broc­coli go par­tic­u­larly well with cheese, and blue cheese and bras­sica soup is ab­so­lutely de­li­cious with crusty bread on a cold win­ter’s day. It is a good way to use up slightly wilt­ing bras­si­cas and bits of left­over cheese in the fridge, but it’s more of a win­ter dish.

Dave’s most suc­cess­ful sum­mer of­fer­ing is the cau­li­flower frit­tata. This is the plainest ver­sion he does, but there are vari­a­tions that range from meaty to spicy to down­right fiery hot. method Chop the cau­li­flower un­til you have pieces about the size of a wal­nut. Heat your skil­let and add the olive oil then, when it is siz­zling, add the cau­li­flower. Turn down the heat, place a lid on the pan and leave it to siz­zle for about 5 min­utes. The cauli will brown and be just cooked, not mushy. Dave doesn’t have a lid so he places a sheet of tin­foil over the top of his deep dish in the bar­be­cue. Take the cauli out of the pan and place in a bowl to stand. Add the but­ter to the skil­let and gen­tly fry the sliced onions un­til they are golden brown and soft to touch, about 10 min­utes if you are go­ing re­ally slowly or five if you are in a hurry. Place the cooked cau­li­flower in with the onions and in­crease the heat. Crack the eggs into a bowl (six eggs might seem a lot but isn’t) and beat with a whisk un­til the yolks and whites have com­bined – you don’t want too much froth. Add salt, pep­per and curry pow­der if de­sired – this is op­tional or you can add more if you love curry. Pour the egg mix­ture over the veg­eta­bles and sprin­kle the cheese on the top. Cook un­til the edges are frilly and golden brown and the egg is solid. You can place the whole skil­let in the oven to brown if you like crispy tops – we put it un­der the grill for 5 min­utes un­til the top is golden.

Don't you just love the name of this crazy new veg­etable I grew last sum­mer? Zucchino rampi­cante. But never mind how its name sounds, its ap­pear­ance is more than enough to make you laugh or even blush at this long green thing which, when hang­ing from a vine, looks very like a fa­mil­iar piece of mam­malian anatomy which is es­pe­cially funny if you’re 11 years old like Theo.

It lives up to its name too – it is in­deed ram­pant. This zuc­chini likes noth­ing more than a wide open space and a fence to climb up. One web­site I con­sulted to find out a bit more about rampi­cante de­scribed them as 'crook­necks on steroids'!

I planted mine next to the old shed. Not know­ing ex­actly how it was go­ing to grow, I of­fered it a piece of wire net­ting to grab hold of. It grabbed hold, made its way steadily up the wire and took over the di­lap­i­dated (but still func­tion­ing) trel­lis adorn­ing the en­trance to the shed and then part of the dodgy roof struc­ture. Once it had colonised the area sat­is­fac­to­rily, it pro­ceeded to sprout forth masses of flow­ers and fruit (mini pee­nees as named by Theo), giv­ing us end­less hours of en­joy­ment and a real talk­ing point with vis­i­tors.

The friend who gen­er­ously shared her seeds with me grows hers on the ground where its habits are a lit­tle dif­fer­ent. Her zuc­chini curl them­selves up into the most un­usual shapes. In both con­di­tions though, the rampi­cante reaches mas­sive pro­por­tions and I did find that if I wanted to use them for cook­ing fresh or eat­ing raw, I needed to har­vest them when they were quite young, prob­a­bly less than 70cm in length. Af­ter that, the skin gets pretty tough and you may as well keep them for win­ter squash. They do dry re­ally well and taste a bit like a but­ter­nut pump­kin, with the seeds con­tained in the bulb at the bot­tom.

A new but slightly fa­mil­iar veg­etable meant I at­tempted all the tried and true ways to cook it. Fry­ing in but­ter is our favourite way to eat reg­u­lar va­ri­eties of zuc­chini but we found the rampi­cante a lit­tle tougher and it needed a bit of sea­son­ing to give it some taste. Grat­ing it into baked veg­etable dishes was good, as was bak­ing 3-4cm rounds (skin on) basted with soy sauce, a lit­tle brown sugar or honey and salt and pep­per.

How­ever, when I piled up baby kamokamo next to a cou­ple of long zucchino rampi­cante (the shapes gave Theo an­other round of hi­lar­i­ous en­ter­tain­ment, as you can imag­ine), I had a brain­wave. How about in­tro­duc­ing rampi­cante to kamokamo? I could make a pickle and call it Bat and Ball Pickle which would make for an­other in­ter­est­ing topic of con­ver­sa­tion around the ta­ble.

I was first in­tro­duced to kamokamo as a child, grow­ing up in a small com­mu­nity near Te Kuiti. The lo­cals clus­tered around the marae and school, and peo­ple grew kamokamo to feed their pigs. Oc­ca­sion­ally, if we were in the right place at

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