IN THESE WOODS...WILD HOP SHOOTS FRITTATA

What can I say that hasn’t already been said before about the humble frittata? Firstly, what is it? I would describe it as the Italian answer to the French omelet, or the Spanish tortilla, kind of. Only it’s much thinner. Doesn’t have any added milk, cream or cheese and is served flat not rolled. The non-egg ingredients (in this case, wild hop shoots) are cooked prior to the addition of the eggs as opposed to cooking the egg, adding the filling, then rolling. Generally the frittata is much lighter compared to its French and Spanish cousins, ideal to be eaten with a fresh salad as a lunchtime snack as the weather starts to get warmer.  

You may be thinking, what are wild hop shoots?
If you happened to be around the Colli Berici at this moment in time you would find it difficult not to have stumbled on it. Right now is the peak season for foraging wild greens. Actually we just got back from a session before sitting down to write this post. 





Hop shoots are climbers and their tendrils elegantly weave themselves around the hedgerow shrubs and bushes. They also grow in wooded areas and Jenna’s favourite walking spot is heaving with them. In my experience (I’m no expert), their taste and texture can be quite inconsistent. There have been times I’ve found them to be far too bitter, leaving and unpleasant taste in my mouth and a strong desire to cough. Other times I’ve been surprised by their sweetness and hint of asparagus. This might have to do with its age, whether or not there has been much rain or it may even be due to the cooking method. I really should look into that before writing an article but, hey ho! 



We have been boiling, steaming, sautéing and even just finely chopping and throwing it into a risotto at the very end and the green colour is so vibrant.

This 2015 article I read from the Guardian claims that to buy them commercially, that is if you can find them at all, they cost an absolute fortune! You would be better off putting your hiking shoes on and going for a walk in the countryside this weekend. 

So what follows can’t be called a recipe; it is more a guideline on how to use the hops in a frittata. It’s so easy it can’t go wrong.

Ingredients:

1 bunch of hop shoots
1/2 medium white onion, finely chopped
4 free range eggs
parsley, chopped
sunflower oil
salt and pepper

Method:
  1. Blanch the hops in salted water for 2-3 minutes. Strain and set aside.
  2. In a frying pan heat the oil and cook the onion until slightly golden
  3. Beat the eggs with a pinch of salt and pepper
  4. Once the onion is ready add the hops and then the eggs. Cook according to your liking (I tend to leave the frittata rather soft and moist but, de gustibus!)

The same hops can be successfully used to garnish a crunchy salad or to bring your pasta dish to the next level (try pairing them with the wild garlic pesto we talked about a couple of weeks ago and you will be hooked). We also freeze them in batches to use them throughout the year. (Remember to boil/sauté them before storing in the freezer). 


Have you ever cooked this veggie before? What did you make?

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