Tuesday, April 5, 2011

spring dinner outdoors

For some reason the first outdoor dinner of the season feels more like the beginning of spring rather than the date on the calendar. I realize that I can safely say that from my 75 degree house, with all the window slung open, while parts of the north are still being blanketed with snow. Our season for eating outdoor is unfortunately short since the deck table gets the full afternoon sun, and you can fry an egg (or melt beeswax, oops!) on our table in the summer. We take full advantage of any nice weather to eat outdoors. Mama loves eating outdoors, less cleanup (yay!) but that little benefit might have been outweighed tonight by an ill-fated altercation with a wasp.

Our spring dinners outdoors differ dramatically from our occasional summer outdoor dinners in that if you can manage to convince the troops to eat outdoors in the summer, you'd better have pizza or some nice cool salads, smoothies or a plethora of fresh fruit. In the spring, with the milder temps, you can have frittata, or any variety of one dish foods, but for tonight, frittata.

The Anything Goes Frittata

5 XL or 6 medium eggs
1/2 cup milk
3 med potatoes, diced
1 cup baby spinach, chopped (or 2 C, if you're so inclined)
1-2 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp salt
dash pepper
1/2-3/4 cup grated cheese

Saute potatoes and olive oil in cast iron skillet on med low heat for 10 min, stirring frequently. Add spinach and crushed or chopped garlic for another 5 min of sauteing. Beat eggs with milk, salt and pepper and pour over veggies, then sprinkle with cheese and pop into 350 oven for 30-40 min until cheese is golden brown. The beauty of this recipe is that you can substitute any kind of veggies for the potatoes or spinach. I've done broccoli, asparagus, zucchini, summer squash, onion and tomato. You can also use most kinds of medium to hard cheese on top. I generally use a local cheddar or Organic Valley raw cheddar.

Do you see the golden tomato herb cheddar? That's the key to a delicious frittata as opposed to a merely tasty one.

Our first watermelon of the season was enthusiastically enjoyed by the kids. Finn didn't remember watermelon. (I love that about little kids. I remember the spring when he was 2. I pulled out short sleeves for him to wear, and he kept tugging on them and asking why his arms were not covered.) He asked me today "why does that fruit have nuts all over it?"

To round out our first outdoor meal of the season, red cabbage sauteed with onions. Another easy winner of a recipe. Chop half of a head of red cabbage into thin strips, and slice 2-3 onions into thin strips. Saute together in 2-3 tbsp of olive oil over medium-low heat for 35-45 minutes stirring frequently until the veggies are soft. Add 1/2 tsp salt before serving. I could eat this every day. No, seriously.

They really do like the food, they're just blinded by the late afternoon sun.

The husband wondering why I brought the camera to dinner. (He prefers his frittata with Frank's.)

And the boy who loves eggs, as long as they're smothered in ketchup.


  1. Food looks delicious! So sorry to hear about the altercation with the wasp. They seem to love our deck area too. Pesky critters.

  2. We have an abundance of eggs 'round here & I've been meaning to make another frittata--what a nice springy meal! We enjoyed bed time stories on the porch, that was super nice. Now, i'm just glad we lived through the night!!

  3. so yummy!! how i love eating outdoors. the weather here has been perfect too! time seems to slow down when eating outside. and everything tastes better!!!

  4. That frittata looks delicious. I've never made one. With all our eggs, I know that I will do this soon. Thanks for the inspiration. Do you use a cast iron skillet?

  5. @Libby, I do! Cast iron is perfect for those things that start out on the stove and move to the oven.

  6. Sounds oh so yummy! My boys were very excited to eat outside last week, but we just had boring old mac & cheese. :)

  7. I absolutely LOVE red cabbage! I just wish the others in the house felt the same :)

    How wonderful to enjoy dinner outside! It's still going to be awhile before we can eat outdoors though it might just go straight from cold to hot here...

  8. Joy! I made it tonight. My first frittata. Yummy. Disa loved it. We had ours w/ brown and black rice and beets.


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