Seasonal Pantry: Lots of local tortillas in Sonoma County

Where would we be without tortillas? Tortillas make tacos, taquitos, tostadas, flautas, quesadillas, enchiladas, burritos and, of course, tortilla chips possible. A tortilla can be a lifesaver on a busy night or hurried morning, or in the afternoon when your teenage son announces he’s hungry now.

There is an abundance of riches when it comes to tortillas in Sonoma County. We have everything from ethereal hand-made flour and corn tortillas, available on certain days in certain restaurants and markets, to plump corn tortillas by Primavera of Sonoma, which have nearly as much in common with pita bread as they do most tortillas. These tortillas, the ones from Primavera, are perfect with soups and stews but not so good for tacos or quesadillas, as they are too thick and not flexible enough.

In between, we have corn tortillas that range in size from about 4 inches across to 10 inches across, several sizes of flour tortillas, handmade-style tortillas and tortillas flavored with additional ingredients.

At our farmers markets, you’ll find handmade tortillas from Mi Fiesta Catering Co., which is based in Vallejo and probably best known for its tamales, enchiladas and salsas.

Santa Rosa’s La Tortilla Factory is the heavy hitter when it comes to locally made tortillas, with several dozen products that are distributed nationally. In recent years, its handmade-style corn and flour tortillas have become enormously popular.

The company’s specialties include both traditional tortillas and tortillas that focus on today’s trends, with gluten-free, GMO-free, organic, low-carbohydrate, high-fiber, low-calorie and olive oil options. Sonoma All Natural Gluten Free Wheat Free Wraps, for example, are made with ivory teff (a kind of grain) and millet flour.

Although some tortillas are more flavorful than others, there isn’t really a hierarchy of quality but rather a spectrum of options to suit individual palates and styles of cooking.

Experiment until you find the ones you prefer and realize, too, that not all tortillas are interchangeable. What makes a great quesadilla, for example, may not be the best choice for a tostada, taco or enchilada.

You can, of course, make your own tortillas, but it requires special skill. If you’ve never done it before, you don’t want to give it a try on a busy weeknight.

It is an art unto itself and the only way you’ll get good at it is to practice, practice, practice.

Today’s recipes are some of the ways I’m enjoying tortillas right now, in early fall. For more recipes from the Seasonal Pantry archives, visit “Eat This Now” at


If you love chorizo, this recipe makes a great filling for tacos or quesadillas. When you have it on hand, you can get dinner on the table in the amount of time it takes to heat it and warm the tortillas. It is also excellent folded into scrambled eggs, which can then be wrapped in hot flour tortillas for an easy and delicious breakfast.


Makes about 2 cups, enough for 8 to 10 small tacos or 6 quesadillas

- Kosher salt

8-10 ounces waxy new potatoes, cut into small dice

1 tablespoon lard or olive oil

6-8 ounces Mexican-style chorizo, casings, if any, removed

1/8-1 teaspoon chipotle powder

1 lime wedge

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Fill a medium saucepan half full with water, add a generous tablespoon of salt and the potatoes, bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat and simmer gently until the potatoes are not quite tender. Drain thoroughly and cool.

Put the lard or olive oil into a medium sauté pan set over medium heat, add the chorizo, and use a fork to break it up as it cooks.

When the chorizo has lost its raw look, add the potatoes and cook, turning gently once or twice, until the potatoes are tender; do not let them fall apart.

Add chipotle powder to taste. Squeeze in the juice of the lime, taste and correct for salt. Remove from the heat, fold in the cilantro, and use right away or cool and store in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days.


Master this simple technique of making a soft taco, and you can make an endless variety based on your preferences, the seasons and leftovers.

If you’ve made, for example, Korean ribs or kalua pig, all you need to do is heat up the meat and follow these instructions.


Makes 1, easily increased

2 small or medium corn tortillas or 1 handmade-style corn tortilla

1/3-1/2 cup filling (see Suggestions below), hot

- Kosher salt

1 lime or lemon wedge

2 teaspoons chopped white onion

1 tablespoon or so of shredded cabbage, optional

- A few cilantro leaves

- Bottled hot sauce of choice

To make a great taco, have the filling and any toppings ready before you heat the tortillas.

To heat the tortillas, set a cast-iron pan or griddle over medium-high heat. Set the tortillas, one on top of the other, in the pan.

Turn the tortillas every few seconds, over and over, until they are very tender, pliable and hot; do not let them become at all crisp.

When the tortillas are ready, set them on a plate, one on top of the other. Add the filling, season with a little salt, add a squeeze of citrus and the other toppings, and enjoy right away.


Vegetables: Diced zucchini, diced winter squash, diced root vegetables, seasoned with salt, pepper, chipotle powder and a squeeze of citrus all make excellent fillings for tacos.

Mushrooms: Sauté mushrooms, diced or torn into small pieces, in lard, olive oil or butter, and season with salt and a bit of lemon juice.

Beans and cheese: Any cooked shell bean works beautifully in a taco; just add your favorite crumbled or grated cheese on top of the beans before adding the other ingredients.

Shrimp: Sauté or grill 3 or 4 large shrimp, remove the shells and tails, fold into the tortillas, add a squeeze of citrus, season with salt and top with sliced avocado, shredded cabbage and cilantro leaves.

Fish: Sautéed fish - petrale sole, flounder, halibut, salmon - makes a great taco. Break the cooked fish into chunks, set it into the hot tortillas and add a squeeze of citrus, salsa and shredded cabbage.

Chicken: Use leftover chicken thighs, chopped or torn into bite-sized pieces and seasoned with chipotle powder and lime juice.

Seared skirt steak: For a single taco, you’ll need about 1½ ounces meat, seared for 2 minutes per side and sliced.

To make it extra special, rub the meat with chipotle powder before cooking it.

Michele Anna Jordan hosts “Mouthful” each Sunday at 7 p.m. on KRCB 90.9 and 91.1 FM. Email Jordan at You’ll find her blog, “Eat This Now,” at

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