Homemade tortillas and pigeon peas & greens

Tortilla & pigeon peas

In my short acquaintance with masa harina I’ve become very fond of it. It has such a mysterious taste. It taxes my limited descriptive powers. Almost sweet, a little floral, maybe. I think the corn is treated with lime. Is that the flavor? I want to use it all the time, in a million different ways! I’ve already made pupusas with it, which I think turned out very good! And I made something else, but I don’t remember what it was, because I didn’t write about it, and this blog has become my auxiliary memory. (It’s very convenient!) The other night I tried using it to make (as I understand it) its main reason for existence – tortillas! I don’t have a tortilla press, but that didn’t stop me, because I don’t have a pasta machine, and we made good pasta. Turns out it’s not that simple with the tortillas. They were delicious, but they weren’t pretty! They’re harder to roll out than pasta, and they stick to the counter and fall apart, and generally made me feel a little cranky and sweary. They were worth making, though, and I’d do it again, but I think I’d make them smaller and call them tortilla chips. I think they’re fine if they’re irregularly shaped…it adds to their appeal! I fried them in a shallow pool of hot olive oil. And burned my finger! Do not dip your finger in hot oil! Don’t do it! We ate the with rice and pigeon peas sauteed with broccoli rabe and tomatoes. Very nice!

Here’s the Clash with 1-2 Crush on You, because that’s how I feel about Masa Harina! There, I’ve admitted it to the world.

For the tortillas…

1 cup masa harina
2/3 cup water
1/2 t salt

Mix well (the instructions on the bag say mix for 2 minutes), and let it sit for about 15 minutes. Break off a small piece, knead it in your hands till it’s workable. Roll it out to be about 1/8th inch thick. As I said – smaller is easier.

Warm some olive oil in a wok or frying pan. When it can sizzle a crumb.

Drop the tortilla in the olive oil. Hold it down for a second. Turn it over when the bottom is brown. When both sides are lightly brown, take it out with a slotted spoon and dry on paper towels.


2 T olive oil
1 shallot – finely chopped
2 cloves garlic – minced
1 t oregano
1 t sage
1t cumin
1/2 t. red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 zucchini, in 1/4 inch dice
1 can pigeon peas, rinsed and drained
1 small bunch broccoli rabe, tough stems removed, chopped into bite sized pieces
1 cup chopped tomatoes or cherry tomatoes
dollop of butter, dash of balsamic, salt and plenty of black pepper

Warm the olive oil. Add the shallot, garlic and spices. When they’re sizzling and starting to brown, add the zucchini. Cook till it’s soft. Add the pigeon peas. Stir and cook through.

Meanwhile, boil a pot of salted water. Add the broccoli rabe. Cook for 4 minutes till it’s wilted and bright green. Drain and stir into the pigeon peas.

Add butter, balsamic, salt and pepper.

Serve with basmati rice and grated sharp cheddar.


6 thoughts on “Homemade tortillas and pigeon peas & greens

  1. Pingback: Pumpkinseed sage sauce & smokey masa harina crepes | Out of the Ordinary

  2. Love your site! This entry has me thinking about pulling out my masa harina tonight!
    Here is a hint if you don’t have a tortilla press- roll the dough into a ball, press it down with the back of the plate. It won’t be as skinny as a tortilla but it’ll be a lot easier.
    Or, skip the tortilla idea and make a variation called a “gordita”. In a gordita, the masa forms a thick disc, about 1-inch thick, and then you pile toppings on top of the gordita and eat it with a fork.

  3. So I’m late to the party, but just wanted to mention that the ‘lime’ used in processing masa harina is actually the mineral lime (calcium oxide), and not the citrus fruit. It’s a process called nixtamalization, which changes the structure of the corn and enables the flour to form a dough when combined with water. Adding liquid to regular cornmeal results in a batter, not a dough (which is good for polenta or cornbread, but wouldn’t work for tortillas, pupusas etc).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s