Spinach & co, mushrooms and tortilla budin

I am not always successful at growing spinach which is why I have back-ups: other plants from the goosefoot family, both annual and perennial, which can be used much in the same way as spinach. Actually, so far this year spinach is doing pretty well. It’s been very cold and even though that means that I have to delay sowing or planting many warmth- loving crops, there are vegetables that prosper under these circumstances, most notably radishes and spinach. But still, when I came across this recipe and wanted to make it, there was not enough spinach to pick. So I added sea beet and Good king Henry from our edible forest backyard.

I also picked some orache seedlings that are coming up in the community garden (and got envious looks from the goats grazing on the other side of the fence).

The recipe is from Deborah Madison’s book ‘Vegetable Literacy’ wherein vegetables are grouped according to the plant family they belong to. There’s both a botanical and a culinary angle to the story which makes the book both interesting and useful. For every plant/vegetable there are suggestions as to how to use it in the kitchen plus several recipes. This recipe called for lamb’s quarters (also called  quelites) but spinach was suggested as a substitute. I took clue from that and substituted other members of the spinach family as well. I’m sure anything you have on hand will work great!

If you have not made a tortilla budin before (it was my first time, too), it’s kind of like a lasagne with tortillas instead of pasta, layered with sautéed greens and mushrooms, cheese and tomato sauce, topped with a little sour cream.

Somehow though this felt much easier to make than real pasta lasagne. Our daughter who was very sceptical when she saw me sautéing the assorted greens ended up eating a full third of the dish, so I think even people who are wary of leafy vegetables might enjoy this. I will certainly be making it more often this spring!

Spinach &co, mushrooms and tortilla budin

from Deborah Madison: Vegetable Literacy

450 g (1 pound) greens from the goosefoot family (spinach, orache, lamb’s quarters, sea beet, good king henry)

3-4 tbsp light sesame oil

1 onion, finely diced

1 fresh or dried chile (I used dried since we still have some stored away)

2 large garlic cloves, minced

250 g (8 oz) mushrooms, sliced

Sea salt

400 g (15 oz) can of diced tomatoes in sauce

Freshly ground pepper

6 corn tortillas

100 g (1 cup) coarsely grated cheese (I used a slightly aged Gouda since we always have that on hand)

180 ml (3/4 cup) sour cream

Fresh chopped herbs to serve (I used oregano and alexanders)


Rinse the greens well and set them aside.

Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, chile and half the garlic and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms, raise the heat and sauté for several minutes. Add the greens, season with ½ tsp salt, stir and cover the pan. Continue to cook until the greens are wilted.

In a medium pan, simmer the tomatoes with the remaining garlic until thickened, about 5 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat the remaining oil in a skillet and when it’s hot, add the tortillas one at a time, flipping them over immediately and quickly removing from the pan. (This prevents the tortillas from becoming soggy)

Heat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius (375 F). Lightly oil a 18 x 30 cm baking dish (6 x 12 inch).

To assemble the dish, arrange half the tortillas in the baking pan (I cut 2 in half). Cover with half the greens, followed by half the cheese and tomato sauce. Repeat the layers and finish with dollops of sour cream.

Bake until bubbly, about 35 minutes. Let stand about 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle some fresh herbs on top.

p.s. we filmed a tour of our edible forest backyard!


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