When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Tortilla Espanola
So you might be scratching your head and holding up two words, weighing them to see if they might possibly even each other out, “lemons, tortilla espanola?” I know. It perplexed me too. What happens when you unwittingly walk away from a rather impromptu visit to Sacramento with three ginormous Meyer lemons in tow? You make lemon curd, naturally. Then, if you’re like me, you begin plotting other uses for the gelatinous goo of egg whites filling a pint glass and mocking you from the inside of the refrigerator. They taunt, “Don’t make us into meringues again?!” And this time, you listen to them.
On a Monday night, you fire up the oven amid the sound of silent castanets cracking overhead, fingers clicking one egg, then two into the growing egg goo. Before long, the Espanola is in sight. Reason number 876 to be happy living in California might just have to be ripe tomatoes in November. They may not be the stellar outcroppings of September, but really, my farmer’s market still stocks strawberries like it’s the peak of summer. So, you have to make the most of these gifts from the heavens. You roast squash and root vegetables like the rest of the country but you silently give thanks as you pop a sungold tomato, its flavor sweet like the last summer sunset.
Then you break out of your reverie and scamper about throwing together an easy meal for a Monday night like this Baked Tortilla Espanola. Trust me, no turkeys, cranberries or stuffing cubes have been harmed in making this dish. There will be time enough for all of that soon enough. Instead, the leeks scent the olive oil and the boiling water takes the edge off the potatoes. All those egg whites find their own rhythm, and the slippery sauteed leeks blend their way into a sweeter sungold tomato salsa. Cut into a slice with a fork and you too may be hearing the call of the castanet.
BAKED TORTILLA ESPANOLA WITH SUNGOLD TOMATO SALSA
For this recipe, you want to use a heavy bottomed pan that can go from stovetop to oven. If you have leftover salsa, spoon it onto a baked sweet potato or serve with crudités. Feeling spunky? Drizzle it onto exotic nachos laced with red pepper hummus, white cheddar, fennel pollen flecked goat cheese and creme fraiche.
YIELD: 4-6 portions
For the Tortilla
- 1 pound small potatoes
- 1 1/2 cup sliced leek, white part only (4 1/4 ounces)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
For the Salsa
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- 1 1/4 cup sungold cherry tomatoes (7 ounces)
- splash of hot sauce
- pinch of smoked paprika
- pinch of kosher salt
- crack of black pepper
Make the Tortilla
Preheat the oven to 350.
Rinse and scrub the potatoes. Slice them thinly into 1/4 inch rounds. Bring a pot 3/4 full of water to a soft rolling boil. Place the potato rounds into the water for 4-5 minutes to take off some of their crunch. Drain them in a colander.
Place a heavy bottomed pan over medium low heat for 1 minute. Swirl in the olive oil and add the leeks. Cook for 4 minutes or until the leeks are translucent. Strain leeks out of the oil and reserve.
Place potato rounds into the oil and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile whisk together 2 eggs with the 6 egg whites and add in the salt and pepper. Pour whisked eggs evenly over the potatoes and cook on the stovetop for 2 minutes to set them. Then transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 35 minutes or until the eggs are cooked though and don’t jiggle when you jostle the pan. Cool for five minutes.
Make the Salsa
Drizzle the vingear into the receptacle of a blender. Spoon the sautéed leeks on top and then add in the rinsed sungold tomatoes. Puree until almost smooth- a bit of chunkiness is inviting in salsa. Stir in the hot sauce, paprika, salt and pepper. Spoon the sauce in a circle on each plate.
Plate the Tortilla and Salsa
Slide a spatula around the edge of the pan several times carefully, helping loosen the tortilla from the sides. Once the edges have pulled away a bit, slip the spatula under the tortilla to begin carefully loosening it from the bottom of the pan. Bring a large plate to the top of the pan and invert the pan onto the plate so that the tortilla transitions from the pan to the plate. Cut a slice of the tortilla to serve on top of the salsa.