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 pantry.blogs.pressdemocrat.com.
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.
CHORIZO AND POTATO FILLING
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