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Saturday, April 30, 2011


Spanish tortilla: potatoes + onions + eggs = perfection

by Nanette Geller


There are some dishes in which a few simple ingredients combine into perfection on a plate. Case in point: the Spanish tortilla. How can potatoes, onions, and eggs taste so wonderful? (OK, good olive oil is important too.)

Slice potatoes and onions, season with salt & pepper, and cook slowly in olive oil until very tender but not browned. In Spain, the tortilla is sometimes made with just potato and egg but for me onion is an essential part of the equation.

Authentic recipes call for lots of olive oil (often a cup of oil). When the potatoes and onions are done drain off any excess oil, which will have picked up the onion flavor; store in the fridge. I use less oil (2-3 tablespoons) in a non-stick pan and cover the pan until the potatoes and onions are almost tender, then uncover and stir gently a few times until they are done.

Mix the potato and onion with beaten eggs and cook on medium heat in a covered nonstick pan with a little olive oil until lightly browned on the bottom.

Either flip in the pan to cook the other side or put under the broiler for a couple of minutes (my preference). Cool to room temperature. Enjoy.

If I feel like gilding the lily, I add some chopped fresh herbs (parsley, thyme, or chives are nice). A bit of Spanish smoked paprika works well.  Some chopped Spanish chorizo, cooked with the potato & onion, would still be authentic. Just use a light hand with any additions; the idea is to enhance, not overwhelm.

In Spain, the tortilla is often cut into small pieces as a tapa. It would be equally at home with local-style pupu. It also makes an awesome sandwich. Leftovers keep a few days in the refrigerator but remember to bring it back to room temp.

When you are working with just a few ingredients, they have to be top quality. I believe we can taste the difference when we shop at the farmers market. Here, I’ve used Yukon gold potatoes from Milner Farm, red onion from Pit Farm, and eggs from Blue Lotus. Also for dinner: French breakfast radishes and hakurei turnips from MA'O, purslane from Otsuji Farm. Behind the wine glass is dark rye from Ba-Le/La Tour. Simple perfection.


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