Potato and Kale Tortilla

Rabbits bite off my pea vines; deer jump the fence to chomp the Swiss chard; black voles lay waste in the bean hills; beetles swarm the cucumbers. But no critter touches the kale. Dense rows of blue-green kale thrive in bad soil, dry weather and stand pest-free. While I pamper, water, weed and feed every other plant in my garden, the kale soldiers on with gusto and gets no attention at all.

Kale is hearty, cheap and good for us, but often we don’t know what to do with it: young, tender kale is nice in salads; mature kale can be boiled, braised or stir-fried, and, even though it’s one of the most nutritious green vegetables we can find, it has never quite had the cachet of snow peas, asparagus or even green beans. With a major row now across my garden, I’m intent on bumping up my vegetable calcium and making this a super kale summer.

The Spanish potato and egg tortilla is one of the most delicious cheap foods on the planet. A few spuds, a bit of onion, a couple of eggs and some olive oil come together in a terrific tapa. Add some wilted chopped kale and you have a great summer supper, picnic food, snack food or brunch idea and it’s almost free.

Kale and Potato Tortilla

3-4 tablespoons olive or a vegetable oil

½ large onion, thinly sliced

1 clove garlic, minced

2 medium potatoes (10 oz.) peeled and sliced

a few slices green Serrano chili with seeds (optional)

1 medium bunch kale (10-12 oz.)

2 extra large eggs or 3 smaller eggs

salt to taste

Swirl 2 tablespoons oil in an 8-inch cast iron or no-stick heavy frying pan. Gently sauté onion, garlic, potato and optional chili with salt (loosely covered) until potato and onion are tender but not brown.

Meanwhile bring 2 quarts salted water to the boil; strip green leafy part from the kale stems. Discard tough stems and cook green kale in boiling water for 2-3 minutes or until fork-tender. Pour kale into a colander, drain water, and as soon as kale is cool enough to handle, squeeze away water and chop coarsely. You should have a generous cup of chopped kale.

Beat eggs in mixing bowl, add hot tender potatoes and onion, stir in chopped kale, and salt. Rub out any debris left in the skillet with paper towel and heat 2 teaspoons oil in the still hot skillet. Pour in the egg mixture, flatten evenly, shake pan and cook over moderate heat for 10 minutes. Shake pan from time to time to prevent sticking. Once the tortilla is 2/3 cooked, cover with a plate and upend the skillet so the tortilla drops out. (If a little sticks on the bottom of the pan, scoop it up with a spatula and place it on top of the potato cake.) Re-wipe the pan and film with 2-3 teaspoons more oil. Heat and slide the cake back in the skillet with the uncooked top on the bottom of the skillet. Shake and cook for another 5 minutes. Loosen edges with a palate knife; shake  pan to insure tortilla is loose and again upend the fully cooked cake onto a plate. Cool slightly and serve warm, room temperature or cold. Makes 4-6 wedges.

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