Riffing

I was daydreaming about kuku sabzi.

Kuku is the name of a Persian frittata that has a delightful ratio of more stuff-to-egg. And ever since my friend Shari made me this style of frittata, I have not returned to making its eggier cousin with the same sort of admiration.

I decided to make mine with nettles and eggs from the Montalvo Garden Curator, Delmar McComb.

The nettles, picked in the Santa Cruz mountains, were some of the most stubborn I’ve ever cooked. Normally, with cultivated or young wild nettles, it’s necessary to cook them somewhat quickly so as not to loose their beautiful texture (which will quickly turn mushy if you’re not paying attention) . But these nettles needed to stew, stew, stew in order to collapse and then soften over time. Even then, they still seemed to resist me in some way, so I decided to remedy this by running my knife through them a bit and flavoring them with handfuls of chopped cilantro, cumin and garlic, and then used just enough egg to hold them together in my cast iron skillet.

While my frittata finished in the oven, I quickly made the sabzi, a name for the pile of fresh herbs to accompany it.

My friend Shari’s sabzi, which he taught me to make on a marathon day of Persian cookery, contained mint, dill, loads of parsley and purslane. On that day, we ate mounds of these fragrant herbs with every plate that we sat down to enjoy and discuss. Our exemplary breakfast of feta, warm bread, walnuts, homemade sour cherry jam and sabzi, washed down with black tea brewed with rose petals seemed, to me, to be the only way to eat breakfast for the better part of that year.

The meal I made last night was not inherently Persian — it was more a blend of things Persian, Indian and Moroccan. Even my sabzi broke the rules with the additions of radishes and vinaigrette.

I just cooked whatever I felt like making.

23 April 2012

nettle, cilantro and cumin frittata with a salad from the garden of baby red mustard, wild arugula, mint, sorrel, radishes and flat chives

spiced lentils and potatoes

basmati rice with caraway and bay

roasted asparagus, fennel and cabbage with cilantro

yogurt, limes

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