Torta: Or Eggs, Oats, and Vegetables
Warning: This recipe is not for the faint-hearted or the first-time chef. But if you are looking for a test of your culinary skills, then by all means, please continue.
Sometimes, all you want is breakfast for dinner. And that is perfectly acceptable—I do it all the time. Cereal for dessert? It’s my go-to. Crepes at 8 p.m.? Why not? Toast and peanut butter or waffles don’t only exist in the morning, after all.
Sometimes, however, you feel like toast or cereal is not quite substantial enough for a full meal and scrambling up some eggs won’t quite do it for you. If you’ve got a craving for some delicious breakfast goodness and are looking for a challenge, I recommend this torta recipe. Torta is kind of like a Spanish tortilla, which is kind of like a frittata, which is kind of like a quiche—and if you don’t know what any of those things are, it’s pretty much an omelette with vegetables, meat, and/or cheese that is cooked in a big pan, which makes it round and dense.
This recipe may seem like it takes a lot of steps, but the techniques are simple, and it’s well worth the time invested. My mom and I adapted this from a New York Times recipe and made it over fall break; it was definitely a good use of my brainpower as I avoided studying for the midterms I had left.
We also put in red peppers, and you can pretty much put in any vegetable you want. If you want to make it a bit meatier, go ahead and toss in some sausage, chicken, or any other meat.
Serves 12 as an appetizer or side, 8 as a main dish.
1 cup dried or fresh portobello mushrooms
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 1/2 cups quick-cooling steel-cut oats
Salt to taste
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup onion, Diced
1 cup zucchini, coarsely shredded
1 to 2 garlic cloves, minced (to taste)
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, diced
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped fresh oregano or 1/4 cup fresh marjoram
6 eggs, at room temperature
4 ounces parmesan, grated (1 cup)
Fresh tomato sauce or simple marinara sauce for serving
1. Place the dried mushrooms in a bowl and cover with the boiling water. Let sit for 15 to 20 minutes, until the mushrooms are soft. If using fresh mushrooms, skip this step.
2. Place steel-cut oats in a bowl. Add salt to taste. Line a strainer with cheesecloth and place over the bowl. Drain the mushrooms, by pouring their soaking liquid through the strainer, and then squeeze liquid out of the mushrooms using the cheesecloth while holding them over the strainer. The oatmeal should be submerged in the soaking liquid (add a little water if it is not). If you didn’t use dried mushrooms, use stock or water to cover the oats. Leave the oats to soak for 20 minutes while you prepare your other ingredients.
3. Rinse the mushrooms of any leftover dirt. Drain them, then squeeze them dry again and chop medium-fine.
4. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a wide saucepan over medium-high heat and add the soaked steel-cut oats, along with the liquid in the bowl. Stir constantly until all of the liquid has evaporated and the oats are cooked al dente or about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
5. Heat another tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat in a heavy 10- or 11-inch nonstick skillet. Add the onion and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often, until onion is tender and translucent, or about five minutes. Add the garlic, zucchini, mushrooms, and sun-dried tomatoes and cook while stirring for another minute until the zucchini begins to soften. Add the steel-cut oats, stir together until everything is well combined, and remove from the heat.
6. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the oregano or marjoram and 3/4 cup of the parmesan. Stir in the oat mixture and mix well. Clean the pan and wipe dry.
7. Return the skillet to medium-high heat and add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. When the oil is hot, pour in the egg mixture and scrape every last bit out of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Cover the pan tightly and turn the heat to medium. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until the eggs are set (insert a knife in the middle; it should come out clean). Remove the lid and remove from heat. Let sit for a few minutes in the pan, then invert onto a serving plate. Top with the remaining parmesan. Allow to cool for 10 to 15 minutes and cut in wedges. Serve with a simple marinara sauce.
Advance preparation: This can be made ahead and reheated anytime or served at room temperature.