Cooking from the Farms: Loving Leftovers

I have shopped for my summer and fall produce at Amesbury’s Cider Hill Farm for the past 8 or 9 years.  To say I love Glenn and Karen Cook’s farm doesn’t adequately express how I feel about having such quality produce available within a mile of my front door.  I’m crazy about fresh fruits and vegetables and I know I couldn’t have made such delicious salads or soups or sides or pies without the Cooks’ dedication to their fields.  “Need” is probably more apt than “love”; I need Cider Hill and farms like it.

We all do.  When we shop locally we do our part in supporting our local economies, we reduce our carbon footprints through reduced travel and shipping, and we can taste food grown with care at its seasonal best.  And, without getting too “crescendoing violins” here, we’re strengthening our immediate community.  By relying on farmers like the Cooks for our food, by them in turn relying on us for our custom, we’ve essentially declared that we have thrown our lot in together, to succeed together.  Each of us has made that leap of faith, offered that trust that every good relationship needs, and as a result the community is a warm and healthy place.  This can only be a good thing.

Another very good thing is Cider Hill’s decision to start a CSA program this year.  Like Cider Hill, this is my freshman CSA year too.  I knew little about CSAs at this same time last year, but I always strive to feed my family exclusively from the freshest, most local produce I can find between June and October as well as support the farms in my area.  The move I made this year from shopper to stakeholder feels like a natural one.

Only three weeks in, I can already see that half shares from my two farms give me wonderful variety.  I can get a kohlrabi from Heron Pond on Tuesday and eggs at Cider Hill on Wednesday.  Snap peas one day, chard the next; bok choy, then strawberries.

I’m also getting volume.  Opening day for Cider Hill’s CSA was this past Wednesday, and I brought home four tomatoes, romaine and red leaf lettuces, a hefty bunch of chard, a quart of strawberries, and a half-dozen of their own chickens’ eggs.  Add this to my Heron Pond score (beets, extra beet greens, bok choy, garlic scapes, snap peas, green leaf lettuce, and a tomato) and the larder is full.  After a little rearranging in the fridge we now have a dedicated CSA shelf…and a lot of work ahead in the kitchen.

So far beets have been pickled and added to dinner salads, the beet greens cooked down in a huge pot of minestrone.  Sweet snap peas were devoured two nights ago, simply steamed and dressed with only a dash of olive oil and salt.  Ribbons of dark green chard took a turn in a little bacon fat before being introduced to the crispy lardons of bacon I rendered down for the cooking.  Last, I tamed ten stubbornly twisty garlic scapes and chopped them up, turning them into a fragrant pesto for last night’s linguini.

Tonight, I am giving myself a hard-earned break from the pots and pans.  Tonight, it’s leftovers.

Not the smidge of this, dollop of that, reheated sides and mains on a plate kind of leftovers that could serve as an historical record of a week’s worth of suppers either.  Tonight’s supper remakes last night’s pasta along with what remains of the Cider Hill chard and bacon and their gorgeously fresh eggs into a meal that proudly holds its own, the sum of delicious parts rather than a plate of past prime bits and pieces.

Garlic Scape Pasta, Chard, and Bacon Frittata

Comforting like good old bacon and eggs, as earthy as spaghetti alla carbonara, you could serve this frittata for any meal, to anyone.  Offer it to company with your head held high.  Across a candlelit table to that special someone you hope to impress with your cooking skills.  Or to yourself on a night you have to dine solo.  Dish up a small green salad and pour yourself a glass of apricot-forward chenin blanc and you’ll be doing your solo self a great service.  The slight sweet fruit of the chenin blanc feels like the perfect match for chard, balancing and smoothing the edges of the vegetable’s iron and tannins.

  • leftover pasta of any shape sauced lightly with garlic scape pesto (or basil pesto or a simple olive oil and garlic)
  • leftover sautéed chard with bacon (or without if you don’t eat bacon)
  • 6 good size eggs
  • 1 Tbsp. cold water
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat olive oil and butter together in an 8-inch ovenproof skillet over medium heat.

When butter begins to foam but before it browns place leftover pasta in the bottom of the skillet and distribute evenly.

Scatter leftover chard and bacon over the top.

Whisk the eggs with water, combining well to incorporate some air into the mixture.

Season to taste with salt and pepper, taking care not to oversalt.  The pasta and the bacon will add some salt to the dish.

Pour eggs over the pasta and vegetables in the skillet, turn down the heat a bit and cook the eggs on the stovetop until they begin to set at the edges.  Run a thin metal spatula around the edges to lift the eggs from the sides of the pan to prevent sticking.

When the edges have set, pop the skillet into the preheated oven and bake for about 20 minutes.  The frittata should be puffed and set in the middle when it comes out of the oven.  Like a souffle it will start to deflate almost immediately.

Serve hot, warm or at room temperature for a great breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  Recipe halves and doubles easily so use fewer or more eggs as necessary and depending on the volume of your leftovers.

©2010  Jane Ward