There was a large box awaiting me.
Covered in silver foil paper, and bound with a satin bow, it shone like starlight. Too large for a dress or shoes. And it weighed a ton. What on earth could it be?
Beneath the petals of colored paper lay a most exciting surprise.
Not a tiger print coat.
Not a tiny sailboat.
Not a collection of rare books.
(But a divine gift for one who cooks.)
An earthen clay cazuela. A beautiful, coveted kitchen accomplice from a faraway land.
As a lover of Spanish everything,
I must admit that I have a mad little obsession with the traditional clay cookware of the region. And though I’ve dragged countless plates, bowls, lanterns, and cushions across the sea, I’d never once considered a cooking vessel amongst my swag.
Probably because it would take up valuable shoe room in my valise.
These sultry Summer nights always make me dream of Spain.
I’ve been craving a classic: the ubiquitous and wildly tasty tortilla de patatas, a tapas staple found absolutely everywhere. Hearty, delicious, and somewhat resembling a potato fritatta, it's come-hither comfort food bar none. The trick? Doing it justice without using eggs.
But you know how I love a challenge.
So, on a 90 degree day, what does a Lioness do? Fires up the oven, of course.
- 6 small organic red potatoes, sliced thinly (skins on)
- 1/2 organic green pepper, chopped
- 1 C organic chickpea flour (besan)
- 2-1/4 C pure water
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
- 3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp smoked black salt
- Olive oil
Now, of course, you can make this without any imported pots and pans, but I do suggest a shallow baking dish once it's ready for the oven, in order to get the purrfect consistency. You could even use a pie dish. And it absolutely must be round. For the Sun. For the Moon. Just because.
Warm up a generous swish of olive oil on a low flame until you can feel the heat just above. Toss in the garlic, and allow it to dance just until it turns translucent and releases its heady aroma. Now place the potatoes in, separating the slices with your fingers. Next sprinkle in the green pepper. Give it a gentle tossing to mingle the flavors and coat the potatoes. Let it gently cook until the potatoes are tender.
In a small saucepan, pour the water, and gradually whisk in the chickpea flour on a low flame, until it becomes frothy. Add in the nutritional yeast and black salt, and keep whisking while the mixture gets hotter. It will thicken as it heats. Be careful not to make lumps! If you do, add a teeny bit more water and whisk like mad until it becomes smooth again. Pour it over the potatoes, and mix it well.
Now, pour it into your baking dish, and pop it into the oven for a good 45-50 minutes.
When you take it out, let it cool, Loves. It needs to rest after such a passionate romp! If you dig in too soon, it won't have a firm texture, and will be jiggly. Take a nap for an hour, then come back to it.
Oh, and when you do...
You're not going to believe how tasty this is! I was revved when I first took a bite. So flavorful, and so close to my memory of it's non-vegan friend I'd known in my travels. For eggs, you see, were the last thing to go on my menu.
It even smelled eggy! Mmmmm! The secret? Black salt.
Those of you who have followed my adventures for a while know that I consider smoked black salt quite the magical ingredient. (You can read about it here.) Somehow, combined with the nutritional yeast and the chickpea flour, the scent and flavor of a baked egg dish is right on...with MAJOR nutrients to boot! Loaded with quality protein, beauty-boosting minerals, B vitamins, fiber, and iron, its a most purrfectly satisfying dish that's easy to pack for lunch or a picnic, and just as easy on your wallet.
My fave way to enjoy tortilla? On a warm Summer evening beneath the stars.
Try it with a tossed dark green salad and my Amorous Ajo Blanco for a sublime supper on a balmy night. And share it with someone you love.
Estar bien mis amores!