Dave’s vegetable frittata
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