Simple Art of Cooking: Locally Sourced Meals for May

It’s that magical time of the year when a blanket of green covers the landscape, tree branches are heavy with bloom and the sun consistently warms us.

East End farmers’ markets and farm stands have opened. “Still a little cold for locally homegrown asparagus,” said Jo Halsey of the Green Thumb in Water Mill before this column went to press, but the availability of spinach, Swiss chard, kale, leeks, scallions and herbs is bounty enough, and all the inspiration I need.

Leek frittata has been a personal favorite and a favorite of my cooking students over the years. Frittatas are practical to prepare as an appetizer to serve at room temperature or warm as a main dish for a light supper. It would make a delicious Mother’s Day brunch dish served with wedges of fontina cheese.

The month of May also welcomes fresh, not frozen, Pacific wild salmon. For those who disdain eating farm-raised salmon due to the potentially harmful feed they’re given for color enhancement, this is your chance to benefit from the fine nutritious qualities of the fish, which is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Swiss chard is a seasonal and delicious vegetable for both spring and fall.

This is the perfect time to prepare Roasted Salmon with Swiss Chard from my book, Savoring the Hamptons: Discovering the Food and Wine of Long Island’s East End. Happy spring!

Frittata Di Porri
Cut into narrow wedges for serving as an appetizer or brunch and serve at room temperature with a narrow wedge of fontina cheese if desired.

Serves 10 to 12 as appetizer or 4 to 6 for brunch

2 large or 3 medium fresh leeks
4 tablespoons  extra virgin olive oil, divided
Salt and freshly ground pepper
7 eggs
Sliced chives for garnish

1. Discard any bruised outer leaves of leek; keep the root end intact. With a sharp knife, cut the green tops of leek just above the white base at a 90-degree angle preserving the inner light green leaves. Cut the leek into quarters or thirds lengthwise from the root end. Hold the leek under a running faucet, then fan out the leaves allowing the water to rinse through the layers. Repeat with remaining leeks. Soak in a bowl of water for 15 to 20 minutes to rid of all grit.

2. Drain leeks and pat dry with paper towels. Cut into 1/2-inch slices, discarding the root end. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large non-stick skillet. Add leeks, season with salt and pepper, and sauté slowly over low heat, stirring occasionally, about 18 to 20 minutes until tender. Transfer leeks to a strainer over a bowl to drain excess oil. Allow to cool.

3. In a large bowl, beat eggs with a pinch of salt. Add the leeks to the eggs; mix thoroughly and season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. Add remaining tablespoon oil to the skillet the leeks cooked in and when warm add the leek mixture. Stir the eggs gently, pushing away from the side of the pan as they begin to set allowing the uncooked egg to run to the side of the pan. When the eggs are well set and the frittata is detached from the sides of the pan, about 6 to 7 minutes, remove from the heat. Allow to cool a bit if necessary before inverting onto a plate, a little larger in diameter than the diameter of the skillet. To invert put the plate face down over the pan, grasp the plate and skillet with potholders firmly and invert the pan to turn out the frittata. With a rubber spatula, carefully slide the frittata back into the skillet and cook over medium-low heat to cook the other side. Cook about 2 minutes and transfer frittata to a serving dish. Serve warm or at room temperature with chives and wedges of fontina cheese, if desired.

Note: Can be prepared up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated, covered.

Recipe adapted from Giuliano Bugialli’s The Fine Art of Italian Cooking (Quadrangle)

Roast Salmon Fillet with Swiss Chard

An agreeable combination!

Serves 6

1 large bunch Swiss chard (about 2 pounds)
2 pounds center cut salmon fillet
2 shallots, finely chopped, divided
1 to 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1 heaping tablespoon whole grain Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 to 2 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice

1. Remove the stems from the chard. Wash and spin-dry the leaves and stems separately. Stack the leaves and cut crosswise into 2-inch wide strips. Trim the stem ends and cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths.

Preheat oven to 450°F.

2. Cut the salmon into 6 equal fillets and place in a lightly greased baking pan.

3. Combine one chopped shallot, the ginger, mustard, thyme, salt and pepper in a small bowl and stir to mix. Spread mixture evenly over each salmon fillet to coat. Marinate about 20 minutes. Roast the fillets for 8 to10 minutes until springy to the touch.

4. When ready to serve, heat the oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the other chopped shallot and sauté about 1 minute until translucent. Add the Swiss chard. Toss to coat and sauté about 3 to 4 minutes until leaves are wilted and stems are tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste and stir in the lemon juice. Divide the mixture on 4 to 6 warm dinner plates.

5. Serve the roasted salmon over the sautéed greens along with roasted or boiled new potatoes, if desired.

Visit Silvia’s website at savoringthehamptons.com to read her blogs and more recipes.

BACK TO Dining Features