Who knows when I discovered that egg dishes are not just for breakfast. They’re great to have in the repertoire because they cook quickly, are inexpensive, and are always in season. You can put almost any vegetable in an egg dish and it will be delicious. With a side salad, they’re a meal. And at some point, I made the ultimate egg discovery: they are great food for after-work cocktail parties, when you want to feed people without a lot of fuss.
I think I can trace that discovery to a vacation in southern Spain, where tortilla Española is served in tapas bars. I have what can only be described as a peasant’s weakness for potatoes, and so the tortilla appealed to me because it is really a potato dish held together by some fluffy egg binding. Last weekend at the farmers’ market, I picked up some Swiss chard and a dozen eggs from Stone Gardens, and goat cheese from Beltane Farm. Knowing some friends were joining me after work on Monday night, I clearly visualized a cocktail party tortilla in my future. Also, how gorgeous is this chard? It is so gorgeous that I will now gratuitously include a second picture of it in this post.
The nice thing about this dish is that you can cook the vegetables a day or two beforehand with no ill effect on the final product. In fact, you really have to wait at least a half hour for the cooked vegetables to cool, so that when you stir them into the eggs they don’t inadvertently curdle them before they hit the pan. If you mix the whole thing together when your guests arrive, you can dig into it before you’ve finished your first drink.
This dish really is very simple to make. My method below is not the traditional way of making tortillas, which are generally cooked completely (first one side and then the other) on top of the stove, on the burner, in approximately one quart of olive oil. I keep the part of the traditional method wherein you flip the tortilla onto a plate and slide it back into the pan to cook on the second side, but I add part of the technique for cooking a frittata: I slide it into the oven for a few minutes to finish cooking.
I prefer my egg dishes to be fully cooked, and not at all runny, so this technique I find yields the most well-cooked results without overcooking the exterior. I know, it is not sophisticated to like well cooked eggs. Like I said, I’m a peasant. If you like yours less well cooked, just complete cooking the second side on top of the stove, and serve. Delicious either way.
Tortilla with chard and goat cheese
- 2 medium, waxy type potatoes, like Yukon Gold, sliced about 1/8″ thick
- 2 large shallots, sliced thinly, about 1/2 cup loosely filled
- 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
- 2 bunches Swiss chard, about 10 ounces, cut into thin ribbons
- 6 eggs
- 1/2 cup of chevre or other goat cheese
- olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 450 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Place potatoes on parchment and brush very lightly with olive oil. Flip slices and brush opposite side. Bake in oven until dark golden brown, about 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet on top of stove, heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. When it sizzles with heat, add sliced shallots and garlic. Stir 1 or 2 minutes, until shallots soften and garlic is fragrant. Add ribbons of chard and a sprinkling of salt and saute until it is cooked and bright green, about 4 to 5 minutes.
3. Remove pan from heat and place mixture in colander in sink to drain. Press as much liquid as possible from the chard mixture. (Use an old tea towel or paper towels to wring as much out as you can.) Remove cooked potatoes from oven. Let all ingredients come to room temperature.
[At this point the chard mixture and potatoes can be refrigerated in separate containers up to a day ahead of preparing the tortilla.]
4. If you made the vegetables ahead, preheat the oven to 425 F. Otherwise, simply reduce the oven temperature to 425 F.
5. Whisk together the eggs in a large bowl. Add cooked potatoes and cooked and drained chard mixture and salt and pepper to taste. Crumble in goat cheese in chunks the size of a walnut.
6. In a 10″ ovenproof skillet, heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil until almost smoking over medium-high heat. Place a pie plate or another plate slightly larger than skillet next to stove. Pour egg mixture into the skillet and immediately turn heat to low. Cook at least 5 minutes, and as much as 10 minutes, until when you lift the side of the tortilla and peek under it is cooked and starting to brown, and the top of the tortilla is only slightly liquid.
7. Invert tortilla out of pan (the side of the tortilla that was in contact with the bottom of the skillet will now be visible on top and the uncooked side will be in contact with the bottom of the plate). Add a bit more olive oil to your skillet if needed, and then push the tortilla off the plate and back into the skillet, this time with the uncooked side in contact with the pan.
8. Pop the skillet into the oven to finish cooking, about 10 minutes, or until cooked through.
9. Slide the tortilla onto a wooden cutting board, cut into wedges, and serve.