This time of year, I’m barely going to the grocery store. Between the many local farmers’ markets, farm stands, my CSA share, and my own backyard, we are well-fed. This week’s recipe for Cook the Book Fridays fit right into this food procurement system. Except for feta cheese, all the ingredients for the Potato, Feta and Basil Tortilla were already on-hand: potatoes from Dick’s Market Garden, scallions and eggs from Wilson Farm, and basil from my own garden.
In this case, the tortilla is not a Mexican corn pancake, but a Basque version of a frittata. You start out sautéing diced potatoes in a generous amount of olive oil. (The recipe said to peel the potatoes but I didn’t bother.) When the potatoes are almost tender, sliced scallions are stirred in to wilt.
Pour a mixture of eggs, some piment d’Espelette, and loads of coarsely chopped basil on top and sprinkle crumbled feta on top. The tortilla cooks stovetop until it is almost set and a golden-brown crust forms on the bottom and sides. The cooking finishes up for a few minutes in a hot oven.
I originally bought my cast-iron skillet specifically for making frittatas. I’ve seasoned it, but every time I made one, it stuck. Over the years, I’d shifted to making frittatas entirely in the oven in a baking pan. When I read this recipe and saw that the tortilla was cooked on the stove in cast-iron, I was nervous that I’d have the same experience. I was pleasantly surprised as I watched the crust easily separated from the pan when I checked its progress. When I transferred the tortilla to a serving plate, I smiled as it gently plopped out. It worked! I could assume that after all this time, my pan is better seasoned, but I’m giving credit to the healthy amount of olive oil added at the start.
The tortilla was delicious for dinner as well as for lunch. A side of sliced vegetables drizzled with olive oil or a panzanella were welcome accompaniments.
I’d make this again, though I thought the amount of basil was overwhelming. I would prefer just a handful of basil for flavor supplemented with other sautéed greens to provide both substance and color.
My main takeaway lesson from this recipe is that the cast-iron skillet can be restored to its intended purpose in frittata making. I’ll just have to remember to be heavy-handed with the oil when sautéing the vegetables.
At my house, there are two definitions of August. To me, August = Tomatoes. To the other resident (husband Howard), August = Corn.
Selections for the first two weeks of French Fridays with Dorie were perfect. Tomato-Cheese Tartlets the first week, and Warm Scallop Salad with Basil, Tomato, and Corn. I missed last week’s deadline for the tartlets, but made both this week.
The tartlets were fun to make. The individual tarts were constructed on disks of puff pastry. I had a little trouble with the puff pastry. The package said you could defrost at broom temperature for 20 minutes or microwave for 90 seconds. I went with the quicker approach, but turned on the microwave and walked away. It got a little too soft and wouldn’t unfold. I just rolled it out with the folds making extra layers, but I had some tearing that didn’t mend as forgivingly as pie crust. But I liked the simplicity of cutting out circles and baking until lightly golden.
As with many of Dorie’s recipes, this one was more of a suggestion than a strict recipe. The disks were smeared with a layer of tapenade or pesto. I tried two of each. This is topped with alternating slices of tomatoes and cheese, goat cheese for me. I warmed the tartlets under the broiler for a few minutes until the cheese started to melt. A final drizzle of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and a fresh basil leaf garnish and it was done. We each ate two of these for dinner, but one tart accompanied with a salad would have made a lovely lunch. Sipping a glass of cold white wine on the side is the perfect accompaniment.
The warm scallop salad was another summer treat. The scallops were a bit pricey, but worth it for the end result. I left out the nectarines, but the lightly dressed corn, freshly picked backyard cherry tomatoes, and fresh basil coulis were packed with flavor. The vegetables surrounded the seared scallops which were the star in the center of the plate. Each component was super simple to put together, now that I’ve learned from several Dorie recipes how foolproof it is to pan-sear scallops. I could make this for a weeknight dinner after a long day at work. The final dish was restaurant worthy.
All-in-all, it was a good week for enjoying new recipes spotlighting seasonal ingredients.
Recipes aren’t posted, but are available in Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table. To read about other home cooks’ experiences with these recipes, check out the Leave Your Link posts at French Fridays with Dorie.