Local Food Challenge…The Vegetarian Needs Protein!

So this is a lean week for a vegetarian….scarce are the grains, nuts, seeds and legumes that I so depend on for my daily dose of protein. On Sunday, I was lucky enough to run into the Poplar Grove Hazelnut folks at the Ladner Village Market. They grow organic hazelnuts in Agassiz (the nexus of the 100 mile diet, really) so I bought some raw hazelnuts for snacking and some hazelnut protein powder (yay!) to add to our local smoothies for a boost. Beside that, I’ve got yogurt, cheese and eggs so I have to get creative. Luckily, one of my favourite egg dishes is super simple to make and totally versatile…tortilla espanola.

While spending some time in Europe, I had a roommate from Barcelona who used to cook me Tortilla Espanola in our one burner “mini kitchen”. It is a very simple egg and potato dish, cooked in unholy amounts of oil. There is no getting away from it…oil is going to be my major wild card. To make me feel better about it, I am going to go for something Canadian: organic, expeller pressed canola.

Tortilla Espanola is essentially a potato frittata, usually served cold as a tapa but it makes a beautiful lunch or dinner served with greens and is delicious as a sandwich too – so try it between some homemade bread made with local grain or 100 mile bread from Bread Affair.

There are numerous recipes that I use but the one that always turns out perfectly is from goop.com . I have made a couple of modifications to ease my locavore dietitian heart…

Tortilla Espanola (adapted from a recipe at goop.com)

  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp organic, expeller pressed canola oil
  • 1.5 pounds local BC potatoes (waxy, not starchy and I like to leave skins on), diced into 1/3″ cubes
  • 1 tsp of Vancouver Island sea salt, divided (available at Marche St George)
  • 1 small yellow onion, peeled and cut into 1/8″-thick half moons
  • 3 eggs

Heat the canola oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add all of the potatoes; once everything starts to sizzle, turn the heat down to medium and sprinkle it with a 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Cook the potatoes for ten minutes, stirring constantly. The potatoes shouldn’t be browning, just getting cooked through. Add the onions and cook for ten more minutes. The onions and potatoes may turn a bit golden. Remove the potatoes and onions with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate and let them sit for five minutes to drain. Remove remaining oil from skillet.

Whisk the eggs together in a large bowl with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Add the potatoes and onions and gently fold everything together. Heat the remaining oil in the skillet over medium heat. Add the egg mixture and cook for 1 1/2 minutes or until the bottom is just set. Using a plate, invert the tortilla and return it to the pan. Continue to flip it using a plate every 30 seconds for a total of six minutes (a dozen flips – don’t drop it!!). At the end, the whole thing will be set and browned. Let cool to room temperature before serving and finish with a bit more salt (if you must!).

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