Spanish Tortilla with Baby Spinach and Red Bell Pepper

20130523-231516.jpgI’m really excited to share today’s recipe with you! Why? Well, I’m talking about food, so this always makes me excited, woo! But, if I had to pick a favorite vegetable, it would be spinach, which is the star of this recipe. Why spinach? I’m sure many of you have memories growing up being forced to eat spinach. Not me. I would gladly suck spinach down like Popeye. When I started cooking for myself, I started to realize the culinary super power of spinach. It is a super nutritious leafy green vegetable that you can have by itself or add to just about anything: pasta, pizza, casseroles, eggs, soups, and even smoothies! Today I’m pairing my favorite vegetable, spinach, with my favorite protein, eggs.

20130523-231132.jpgInstead of using baby spinach to make a salad, I decided to get a little creative and use it to make one of the most common dishes served in Spain known as the tortilla de patatas, or the Spanish tortilla (Spanish potato omelet) . One of the great things about this dish is that it is perfect for any meal – breakfast, lunch, dinner or as an appetizer and can be served hot or cold. I like mine warm, but it is traditionally served at room temperature.

Keeping with my simple recipe philosophy, this tortilla only has 6 ingredients: Spinach, bell pepper, eggs, potato, milk, and onion. Also, in line with in a DASH, this recipe is adapted to be pretty speedy, and can be made in under 30 minutes!

20130523-231432.jpgYou already know how much I LOVE eggs, especially frittatas. Well, the Tortilla de Patatas is the Spanish cousin to the Italian frittata. The major difference is that the frittata is baked, while the Tortilla is flipped in the pan and only cooked on the stove top – perfect for summertime when you don’t want to heat up your oven! Besides eggs, the other main component of the tortilla is potatoes. Delicious, starchy, thinly sliced, layered potatoes. YUM.

In my version of the Spanish tortilla, I decided to add baby spinach and red bell pepper. This way, you get some extra veggie in and still enjoy this decadent Spanish dish!

Big SPanish tort

The other great thing about what I did here is that I slimmed down the recipe a bit. Most Spanish tortilla recipes use a TON of olive oil. I have minimized the amount of oil needed for this dish, so you can enjoy this Spanish delight and keep your waistline! Less oil makes the tortilla a little thinner, but it still has the texture and taste of a real Spanish Tortilla. I promise.

Let’s make this tortilla in a DASH!

First peel and slice the potato very thin. I don’t have a fancy slicer or food processor, so I just sliced them thin with a knife. Cut and chop about a quarter of an onion and set aside.

20130523-231117.jpgAdd your potatoes to a heated pan with olive oil. Immediately after adding potatoes, reduce the heat. Your potatoes will NOT be in one layer, and this is ok. You want this. There will be a temptation to crisp up and brown your potatoes, but that is not what we’re trying to do here. We are cooking them to be just soft, not crisping them. Stir the potatoes occasionally as you cook them. After about 5 minutes, add the onion and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes, until potatoes are soft.

20130523-231143.jpgRemove potatoes and onions and a pinch of salt and set aside. Reduce heat to low and add the red bell pepper and spinach to pan and stir. This is just to warm and soften the veggies. We don’t want to wilt the spinach and we want to keep the peppers crispy for some texture.

20130523-231154.jpgYum! Next scramble up your eggs, milk, salt and pepper. After allowing the potatoes and veggies to cool for about 5 minutes, add them to the eggs and stir. Let this stand for a few minutes. I know it looks like there is not enough egg here for all the stuff, but trust me, the potatoes will make up the bulk of the dish, with the spinach being the STAR, of course.

20130523-231207.jpgHeat up the remainder of the olive oil in the pan and add the egg/veggie mixture. Gently pat the potatoes and veggies down to form even-ish layers and reduce the heat.

20130523-231228.jpgI know you are looking at this saying: “how the HECK is that going to hold together to flip it? That looks like a hot mess” I promise you, it does, and it may look like a hot mess now, but soon it will be fully cooked, and be in your belly.

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This tortilla is ready to be flipped!

When the edges start to pull away, run a rubber spatula along the edges to loosen up the egg. Run it around and around and scrape a little on the bottom all around so you know nothing is sticking and you can easily flip it. When the top is wet, but not runny, lift up the tortilla slightly and take a peak at the bottom – when it is lightly browned, it is ready to be flipped!

To easily flip, carefully place a large plate on top of the pan and flip the pan over so that the tortilla falls out. Next, Slide the tortilla back in the pan so that uncooked side of the tortilla is in the pan and the cooked side is up. Sorry that I didn’t have someone else around to photograph me doing this, but luckily, the internet is a educational place – check out this YouTube video that gives multiple ways to flip a tortilla. Don’t be intimidated by the flip.

YOU CAN DO IT!

Cook on the other side for 2-3 minutes, flip one more time to warm and you’re done!

20130523-231243.jpgAdd some salt and pepper to taste, slice up and ENJOY!

20130523-231331.jpgTender, layered potatoes, crunchy, sweet bell pepper and bold baby spinach. SO INCREDIBLY DELICIOUS!

20130523-231343.jpg I ate this for breakfast and then again for dinner. I was a little disappointed when I finished it and didn’t have any left over for lunch the next day. 🙂

Recipe: Spanish Tortilla with Baby Spinach and Red Bell Pepper

Serves 220130523-231602.jpg

Total time: ~25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 russet potato, peeled and quartered
  • ¼ cup of onion, chopped (I used a sweet onion, but you can use white or yellow)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon of milk
  • 2 oz of Fresh Baby Spinach, rinsed and dried (about 2 cups, not packed)*
  • ½ of red bell pepper, chopped
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

Instructions:

  1. Slice potato very thin, about 1/8 inch (I don’t have a fancy slicer so I used a knife. You don’t need to be exact – not cooking for the queen)
  2. Add one tablespoon of olive oil to a non-stick pan and heat until hot on medium high (I used a shallow 8inch pan – you can also you a 6inch as long as it is deep).
  3. Add potato slices to pan and immediately reduce heat to medium-low. Stir potatoes occasionally and cook for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add sliced onion to potatoes and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are soft. Remove potatoes/onion from pan, add a pinch of salt and set aside to cool before adding to eggs.**
  5. Add chopped bell pepper and spinach to the pan on low heat and warm to soften peppers and spinach for about 1 minute. Remove and set aside to cool slightly before adding to the eggs
  6. In a large bowl, combine eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Whip eggs with a fork to scramble. Add relatively cooled potatoes/onion, baby spinach and bell pepper and stir till combined.
  7. Warm the remaining olive oil in the pan on medium high heat until it is hot. Add the egg mixture to the pan and pat down with a rubber spatula to even out the layers. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook for about 2-3 minutes. To ensure that the egg doesn’t stick, run a rubber spatula around the edges of the egg and under the egg.
  8. The tortilla is ready to be flipped when the top is wet, but not runny, and the sides are firm (see pic above). To easily flip, carefully place a large plate on top of the pan and flip the pan over so that the tortilla falls out. Next, Slide the tortilla back in the pan so that uncooked side of the tortilla is face down in the pan and the cooked side is up. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.
  9. Flip the tortilla one more time, and warm the first cooked side for another minute.
  10. Invert the tortilla on a serving dish and add some salt and pepper
  11. ENJOY

*Note that because the tortilla is cooking so quickly in the pan, the baby spinach just wilts slightly. If you wish to substitute mature spinach, be sure to cook and drain first. Mature spinach may release a lot of water that can mess up your tortilla.

**I stress cooling the potatoes and the veggies to prevent premature cooking of the eggs in the bowl.

Recipe Source: Deliciousinadash.wordpress.com

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Grandma’s Swiss Chard Patties

20130516-201114.jpgOh man, you guys are in for a real treat today! I’m sharing with you a family favorite! I made this recipe with my mom when I went to visit her for Mother’s day weekend. I already told you my mom taught me how to cook. She is a PHENOMENAL cook. Her mom, was also a fantastic cook and this recipe is one of her specialties.

20130516-201051.jpgThis recipe is so great because it uses a part of the vegetable (the stems) most people discard, and transforms it into a tasty, savory bite-size cake with great crunchy texture. My grandma was trying to feed 8 people in a tiny Bronx apartment kitchen, so most things she made had to be fast, and that usually meant using the stove top and pan frying a lot. Since she had so many mouths to feed and not a lot of money, my grandma wasted NOTHING. This recipe uses the stems of swiss chard. Usually when cooking swiss chard, most recipes use the leaves and discard the hard, ribby, not so tasty stems. Not my penny-saving grandma. She was not going to throw away anything that was edible, and now, neither will you!

20130516-201103.jpgSome of you might be wondering what swiss chard is. It is a leafy green vegetable, and like other leafy greens, it is highly nutritious. The stems can vary in color, but all generally taste the same. Check out pretty red-stemmed chard! As for vitamins, it is an excellent source of vitamins A, K and C – it has a TON of vitamin K (700% DV in 1 cup!) woah!

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Swiss Chard leaves – the part of the veggie we will save for another recipe!

My mom still makes these patties today, mostly from memory. There is no exact written recipe, so I’m really glad I got the chance to help my mom make these!!

The other great thing about this recipe is that it is so easy and uses only 5 ingredients. That’s right. FIVE. Swiss Chard, eggs, seasoned bread crumbs, flour, Parmesan cheese (and oil, salt and pepper).

Most of all, this recipe is simple, fast and delicious, not to mention, centered around a vegetable! Grandma totally did Delicious in a Dash. I guess it’s in my blood.

We usually start off using two bunches of swiss chard, mostly because we end up eating a lot of them while we’re cooking. 🙂 You can use any stem color chard. The one I have here in the photo is probably the most common in grocery stores. But you can definitely find rainbow or red chard as well.

First trim the very bottoms off the swiss chard. You want to discard the very end that is probably a little dry, and dirty and split at the bottom. Then de-stem the swiss chard. You can cut off right where the stem starts to get thin in the leaves (see my picture above – you won’t use the thinner part of the stem). You want to use the thick part. There can be some leaves attached to the stems you will use (see pictures below) **Save the leaves and set aside for a later recipe. I like cut up the leaves small and sauté them in some garlic and oil with some salt and crushed red pepper flakes.

Ok, back to the stems. If you have very large stems you might need to cut them in half, but we usually don’t, you want them pretty big. Wash the stems and place them in a pot of boiling water and boil for about 5 minutes, or until soft (see picture below).

20130516-200735.jpgDrain the stems and now you need to dry the stems. This is my grandma’s patented technique. To do this, set down a dish towel on the counter and place 2 linked paper towels on top. Spread out the drained stems on the paper towel, like so:

20130516-200749.jpgPat dry with an additional paper towel. Sprinkle some all-purpose flour on top of the stems. This is a critical step because it will allow the batter to stick to the stems.

20130516-225939.jpgThen lift up either side of the paper towel and rotate the chard from side to side. This will not coat the stems, just ensure that they are dry.

20130516-200814.jpgMy mom’s got great hands, huh?! What technique!20130516-200825.jpgNext, prep the batter. In a large bowl (or if you’re my mom, you use a very large tupperware container) combine eggs, bread crumb, grated Parmesan and ground black pepper and mix. Then dump the stems into the bowl and stir to coat the stems in this easy, one-step batter.

20130516-200835.jpgNow comes the cooking part. Pour oil in a large pan (we’re using a cast iron skillet), enough oil to coat the bottom on the skillet. You are not deep frying these patties, but you are pan frying them. Warm the oil on medium heat. You want the battered stems to sizzle as soon as you put them in the pan. **You can test the heat of the pan by just putting a small drop of the batter in the oil to see if it sizzles. When it does, the pan is hot enough. Using tongs, pick up a bundle of battered stems, and place in the pan. Pat down slightly so the patty is a single layer. Proceed to do this to fill up your pan.

20130516-200852.jpgWhen the edges start to round and get lightly brown (about 2-3 minutes), the patties are ready to be flipped.

20130516-200907.jpgThe bottoms should be lightly browned when you flip them – see below.

20130516-200930.jpgThe patties will take an additional 2-3 minutes to cook on the other side. Then remove from pan and place on a paper towel-lined plate to cool. You can blot both sides of the patty with a paper towel.

20130516-200956.jpgContinue this process with the remainder of the batch. You may need to add a little more oil while cooking. The patties will get flatter as the oil is used up.

When cool enough to touch, (I usually wait aaabbbout 1 minute) Salt to taste and DEVOUR! Because we leave the stems whole and don’t dice them up like other recipes, the stems are still full, fat and tender and have a meatiness to them. This is in delicious contrast to the crispy batter around the meaty stems. Crispy, savory, delicious swiss chard patties.

20130516-201016.jpgYUM! My mouth is watering right now just trying to describe these to you!

20130516-201030.jpgYou can make these for an appetizer, or a side dish to dinner. I’m not sure these have ever made it to dinner, I think we always eat them while cooking them and as a pre-dinner snack.

20130516-230100.jpgRecipe:

Grandma’s Swiss Chard Patties

Ingredients:

  • 2 Bunches of Swiss Chard (any color stems)
  • Flour (~1/4 cup – just enough for sprinkling the stems)
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup Seasoned Bread Crumbs (We use 4C brand)
  • 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Vegetable or olive oil to cook patties in (NOT extra virgin olive oil, it will burn)
  • Salt and pepper to taste (we usually sprinkle in a little pepper into the batter, but leave the salt out till the end)

Instructions:

  1. Trim the very bottom of the swiss chard stems and discard. Then cut off the thick part of the stems, could be as large as 5-6 inches (see description above). Set leaves aside for later recipe
  2. Wash stems
  3. Boil stems in water for about 5-10 minutes until stems are soft and flexible
  4. While stems are boiling, prepare the batter. In a large bowl, combine eggs, bread crumbs, cheese, and a generous pinch of pepper, mix well.
  5. Drain stems, and spread them out on dish cloth topped with paper towel (see above). Pat dry with an additional paper towel
  6. Sprinkle flour on top and roll from side to side (see above for technique)
  7. Dump the stems into the batter and stir so all the stems are coated.
  8. Prepare a medium to large cast iron skillet or frying pan by coating the bottom with oil and heating on medium
  9. When pan is hot (a drip of batter will sizzle), use tongs to grab a bundle of swiss chard stems (like 4ish) and place in the oil and press down very lightly
  10. Cook for about 2-3 minutes, edges will be slightly brown, and rounded, and bottom will be lightly browned. Flip and cook another 2-3 minutes on the other side. When browned, remove from pan and let cool on a paper towel-lined plate. ***If your patties start to brown too quickly before the edges round, you may need to turn down the heat. Heat settings on stoves vary
  11. Salt to taste and ENJOY!

Recipe source: My grandma, via my mom.

Vegetarian Orzo Parsley Salad

20130507-143829.jpgMay is National Salad Month! That’s right, salad gets a whole month to itself to celebrate how awesome it is.  Mother’s Day is also coming up and it’s about time I start sharing stories about the inspiration for all my culinary adventures and the person who taught me how to cook: my mom. Well, I’m kicking off National Salad Month with a non-traditional salad: Vegetarian Orzo Parsley Salad.  Although this recipe is not one that my mom has shared with me, my mom loves fresh parsley, so I think she would like this salad too. Parsley is a significant part of this dish, and whenever I smell fresh parsley, it reminds me of times in the kitchen with mom, making pasta sauce for Sunday “dinner”.  Being Italian, this dinner would take place at 2pm.  If you’re not Italian, this time probably sounds strange.  If you are Italian, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  Of COURSE you eat dinner at 2pm on Sundays. Dinner also consisted of pasta and 5ish other courses. It was quite an event.  I miss it.  Being the little piglet that I was growing up, I LOVED Sundays.

20130507-144025.jpgOk.  Back to the superstar: Parsley.  One of my jobs as a little kitchen helper was to pluck the leaves off the parsley bunch so my mom could put it in the chopper to add to the red sauce (called gravy in our family).  My mom always liked to put extra parsley on her pasta.  She also adds fresh parsley to meatballs, chicken soup, stuffing for peppers and probably a ton of other things that I never realized.  So, Happy Mother’s Day Mom!  Here’s another recipe you can load up with parsley!

20130507-144127.jpgThis salad screams Spring to me.  Fresh parsley gives the salad a bright taste, that is crisp and refreshing.  It makes a great side dish to grilled burgers, steak or chicken.  It is also good on its own, and you can add some cannellini beans to it to spike it with a little protein if you want it as a main meal. What is so great about this salad??   It’s versatility.  This salad is delicious hot OR cold.  Another bonus: The Baby Bella mushrooms used in this dish are so flavorful and meaty, you will hardly notice there is no meat in this salad. Also, just like all of my recipes, this dish is easy to make and takes the amount of time it takes to boil pasta.  So what are you waiting for?!! Make some orzo salad!

20130507-143846.jpgThose are some good lookin’ mushrooms.  I know a lot of people don’t like mushrooms, but really, I beg you to try baby bella mushrooms.  Baby bella mushrooms, also known as cimini, are just young portobella mushrooms. They have a subtle taste and a meaty texture.  Baby bella mushrooms are an excellent source of selenium, B vitamins and potassium.

Alright, enough with the nutritional lecture.  Let’s make some Orzo Salad!

Dice up some onion and garlic and place in a large pan on medium heat and saute with some olive oil. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to your onions/garlic.

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Slice up the mushrooms and add them to the sizzling onions and garlic in the pan.  Cook mushrooms with onions and garlic for about 7-10 minutes.  Onions should be soft and translucent.

20130507-143900.jpgMake sure you use a large enough pan.  Your mushrooms need space! Don’t crowd the mushrooms.  If you like a little kick to your salad, put in a touch of crushed red pepper flakes to the mushrooms.   While your mushrooms are cooking down, cook your orzo pasta in salty water.  I had some extra broccoli in the house, so I added this to just warm up in the pan with the mushrooms for about 2-3 minutes. ***I LOVE my cast iron pan.  I cook almost EVERYTHING in this pan and it only cost me about $20 at a big box store (Kmart/target/walmart)  It is a an essential cooking tool in my kitchen.

20130507-144036.jpgNext, prep that parsley! I usually buy flat leaf parsley, but you can use curly parsley if you like. Grab a really good handful of the washed leaves and give them a good rough chop, and set aside. The dish’s superstar is now ready! When the orzo is cooked al dente, (or how you like your pasta – just don’t make it mushy) drain the pasta, and save about 1/4 cup of the cooking water. DO NOT RINSE the orzo.  You want the starch to stay on the pasta.  Then place orzo in the pan with the cooking mushrooms and toss together.  You could also instead add the veggies to the orzo pot, if doing this or if you are not tossing the orzo directly with the veggies, drizzle a little olive oil over the orzo to prevent the pasta from sticking together.

20130507-143942.jpgAfter the pasta and veggies are well mixed, toss in all the delicious parsley and mix some more.  Add a little salt and pepper to taste.  If your salad is a little dry, you can add a little of the reserved pasta cooking water.

I love eating my orzo salad this way.  The best thing about orzo, is that it’s shape, lends itself to staying moist and not needing a sauce, but if you’re a person who can’t eat a salad without a dressing on top – you can drizzle a little garlic oil and a splash of lemon juice on top.  See below for my super easy garlic oil recipe!

Now DIG IN and ENJOY!

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Mmmm look at that veggie to pasta ratio!  Lots of veggies in there!

20130507-144050.jpgSo easy, so fast, so fresh!  A perfect spring dish!

Recipe: Vegetarian Orzo Parsley Salad  20130507-144140.jpg

Servings: 2

Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil (this is an estimate, enough to just coat your pan)
  • ¼ cup of onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 6 baby bella (crimini) mushrooms, sliced
  • ¼ cup of broccoli, chopped (optional – you can substitute in almost any vegetable here – tomato, roasted asparagus, red bell pepper)
  • ½ cup of uncooked orzo, cook in salty water per instructions on box
  • ½ bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped (about a large handful)

Instructions:

  1. In a medium pot, boil salty water for orzo*
  2. Coat a large pan (I use a cast iron pan) with olive oil and warm on medium heat.  As the pan is still warming, add onions and garlic.  Cook for about 2 minutes.
  3. Add sliced mushrooms to the same pan, and cook for about 7 minutes, until onions are translucent and mushrooms are soft.  Add a pinch of salt and pepper and crushed red pepper flakes to onions/garlic and mushrooms as they are cooking
  4. Add the broccoli and cook just until warm, about 2 minutes.  You want your broccoli to add some crunch
  5. While your veggies are cooking, add orzo to boiling, salty water (or chicken stock) and cook per instructions on your pasta box (about 10 minutes)
  6. Drain orzo and reserve ~ 1/4 cup of cooking water – DO NOT rinse your pasta, you will lose the moistness,
  7. Immediately toss the orzo and veggies together –if needed, add a little pasta water to moisten it up.  Add in parsley and mix until combined. **
  8. Add some salt and pepper to taste

ENJOY!

* I stress the salty water here because you are not putting a sauce on the orzo, thus, the only time you have to flavor the pasta at all is during the cooking process in the water.  You can also cook your orzo in chicken stock.  That will give the pasta a very good flavor.

** If not tossing immediately with the veggies, drizzle a little olive oil on the orzo after draining and stir to prevent orzo from clumping.  You can also just add a little pasta water to moisten up.

Recipe Source: Deliciousinadash.com

Bonus Recipe!

Easy Quick Garlic Oil

Adapted from Ina Garten

  • ½ cup of olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  1. In a small saucepan, slowly warm up the oil to a simmer with the garlic cloves
  2. Reduce heat to low and cook for 5-10 minutes – until garlic is lightly browned – careful, so it does not burn
  3. Remove from heat and let cool
  4. Remove garlic and save for later (To spread on bread)
  5. Drizzle oil over anything!

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