Friday, December 10, 2010

The Food Desert Project - Tortilla Paisana (Spanish Country-style Omelette)


During the holidays, it's a good idea to have food around - you never know when hungry people will stop by.  For these occasions, it's handy to have a Tortilla Española around.  This country version, a tortilla paisana, is a country-style Spanish omelette - a thick cake of eggs and potatoes flavored with onions and garlic - and whatever else you find appealing in your pantry. The terrific part about a Spanish Tortilla is that it can be served as an appetizer or a full meal, and it can be served hot or cold.

Boxed dried potatoes work even better here than their fresh counterparts: they have the same nutrition, and save you the trouble of making thin, even slices.  Just be sure to throw out the "flavor packet;" goodness knows what's in there.

Food Desert Tortilla Paisana


1 4.9 oz box scalloped or au gratin potatoes, "flavor packet" discarded, prepared with water only as directed (my box used 2 1/4 cups of boiling water for the bag of potatoes, which I simmered for 20 min)
1 tsp salt (for potatoes)

2 tsp canned garlic
2 tbsp dried onion, rehydrated overnight in 6 tbsp wine, drained
1/4 cup diced canned pimiento or roasted red pepper
1/3 cup peas (canned or frozen)
4 strips cooked bacon, crumbled
3 eggs
2 tubs of egg substitute (4 eggs' worth)
Salt and pepper to taste


I originally tested this recipe using a nonstick skillet - but I like finishing tortillas in the oven, so I decided to use Bessie, my faithful cast-iron skillet.  For a bit of insurance against sticking, I not only oiled the skillet well, but I also quickly lined the bottom of the pan with a circle of parchment paper, cut by folding a square into eighths and measuring the radius of the pan's bottom.


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Add salt and boiling water to potatoes in a saucepan. Simmer for 20 minutes until tender. Drain and taste for seasoning, set aside.
003In the same saucepan, saute half the garlic and rehydrated onion with the red pepper in EVOO until fragrant. Add peas and saute until warmed through and coated.  Spread evenly over the parchment paper.

006Saute the remaining garlic and onion with the cooked bacon pieces and fold in the potatoes.  Spread these in an even layer over the peas.  Whip the eggs and egg substitute in a blender, and add salt and pepper to taste (about 1/2 tsp. each) and pour over the potatoes, pressing with a spatula and shaking the pan so that the eggs settle to the bottom.

010Turn on the stove, and cook on medium-high heat on the stovetop for about 5 minutes or until you see the edges start to thicken, then place in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the whole tortilla is set and is slightly brown on the top.  NOTE: make sure you use a good potholder when moving the cast iron skillet!
015Now comes the scary part: run a knife around the outside edge of the tortilla to make sure it is loose.  Cover the pan with a large plate and flip the entire thing upside down, so that the tortilla falls (hopefully) in one piece onto the plate, ready for serving.  Remove the parchment from the top and, using a serrated knife, carefully cut into squares.  Serve warm or chill in the fridge where it will keep for a few days.

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