My store cupboard saviour – Tortilla or Spanish omelette
Like many Brits, the first place I ever went ‘abroad’ was Spain. A friend asked me to come with her to Menorca and when I mentioned that I didn’t have a passport she was gobsmacked. ‘Weston-super-mud’ was our nearest bit of beach (on the estuary of the Bristol channel hence our nickname for it) and the farthest place my cash-strapped family had ever visited was Guernsey by ferry.
I can remember being quite bewildered by the lack of a promenade or a pier. The beach was at the end of a narrow country lane which ended abruptly letting you enter miles of white sand fringing turquoise sea. There was a bar on the beach for cones of chips, ice creams served in hollowed out shells of fruit and long glasses of the local drink, gin and lemon.
On one evening we went to a fiesta – held by different towns throughout the summer. A brass band played rousing music and the square was filled with men and foolish English teenagers (that would be me). Women, children and old people looked down from crowded balconies. The mayor and the dignitaries of the town rode glossy black horses through the throng, they were adorned with coloured bridles and decorations. The crowd surged forward and tried to make the horses rear, including throwing firecrackers under their hooves. Utter madness but terribly exciting.
My own first taste of the Spanish classic tortilla de patatas was in a wooden panelled bar in Mahon. Small chunky slices as well as other morsels in little terracotta dishes were tapas with our drinks.
Tortilla or Spanish omelette has many things to recommend it. Only three ingredients are required (that you probably have in your kitchen right now). It’s really simple to make. It’s really economical – even if, like me, you use free-range eggs. And finally, it tastes even better at room temperature or cold than straight out of the pan.
Could this be the perfect packed lunch recipe? I certainly think so and make this at least once a fortnight for supper with a couple of slices left over for lunch the next day. This is the basic recipe, in Spain even the addition of onions is debated, but you can add other things to ring the changes (see below). If you’ve never tried it, make the original recipe first. It shows that you don’t need complicated ingredients or spices to make delicious food.
Tortilla or Spanish omelette
8 eggs, free range preferred
900g potatoes, waxy if possible, peeled
1 large onion, chopped medium dice
approx 150ml olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- Cut the potatoes into quarters and slice thinly into triangular pieces. Rinse the potatoes, drain and pat dry with kitchen towel.
- Heat most of the olive oil (reserve 1 tablespoon) in a large frying pan and put in the potatoes and onions. There should be enough oil to coat the ingredients thoroughly with a little left over. Lower the heat, stir occasionally and cook gently until the potatoes are soft and transparent.
- Meanwhile, beat the eggs and season with salt and pepper. *Turn up the heat, pour the eggs into the pan and stir gently to combine. Flatten the mixture with a spatula. Let the omelette cook for a minute or two, then reduce the heat and cook for a further 3-4 minutes until the omelette starts to set around the edges and on top.
- Run a knife or spatula round the edge of the pan to loosen, put a large plate over the frying pan and turn the whole thing upside down. Return the empty pan to the heat and add the remaining olive oil if necessary. When the oil is hot, slide the tortilla back into the pan, with the cooked side uppermost. Alternatively, you can put the whole pan under a preheated grill to cook the top (gives a drier texture).
- Cook until set all the way through but not too firm. Turn out, flipping it upside down once more. Leave to rest for a few minutes before cutting into wedges.
*You can cook the potatoes and onions ahead of time and, when slightly cooled, add to the egg mixture. This adds flavour to the egg.
Although not authentic, delicious variations can be made by adding additional ingredients with the egg. Try roasted red peppers with diced chorizo (use smoked salt too); peas and a little fresh mint; chopped fried pancetta and parmesan; or replace the onion with some thinly sliced leek and add some chopped chives plus a little Cheddar to the mix.
UAE Saves Week 2013
I’m posting recipes and ideas that are great for packed lunches this week – some are already up on the Cashy.me site if you want to plan ahead. If you can only spare one day to participate, make it today on Pack your lunch Monday. There are other non-food related, practical activities every single day, find out what’s on here and don’t forget to use #UAEsaves on your pics, posts and tweets.
Meet the blogger event
As someone who is much more at home behind a keyboard and screen, I mustered all my courage and demonstrated how to cook a Spanish omelette at Lafeyette Gourmet, Dubai. It was part of a ‘Meet the blogger’ event by Lootah Premium Foods and great fun. Massive thanks to Adrian the chef, the LG and LPF teams and everyone for coming along. Congratulations to all the Fooderati Arabia who took the plunge. These lovely pics are from Sarah of The Hedonista.
P.S. The last day to enter Monthly Wine Writing Challenge 3 is Monday 23rd September 2013; that’s TODAY!
Ever made a Spanish omelette? What’s the first taste of travel you remember?