Lekker Brekker Monday: Cheesy Spanish potato & onion omelette
Here’s a take on a Spanish omelette to be served in chunky wedges, like a slice of cake or quiche.
In Spain, what the world calls a Spanish omelette, and what Spaniards call a tortilla, is a beloved national dish.
This isn’t an entirely authentic Spanish omelette (variations are common), because in its purest form the omelette is required to be turned while cooking, whereas this one is finished under the grill. But you can choose to turn it over if you like.
It’s a substantial omelette that can feed four, or even six, though those servings might be a little skimpy for some of us.
But it is much like a traditional Spanish omelette other than that.
A Spanish omelette, approached puristically, has no cheese, and in its core state contains only five ingredients: egg, potato, onion, olive oil, and salt. There is even a school of thought that would leave out the onion, though I think it would undoubtedly lose some of its charm without an allium in it. (Garlic, however, would be a mistake … it’s breakfast…). Most recipes don’t even add any black pepper.
Traditionally, the potato in a Spanish omelette is sliced very thinly, in wafer-like scallops, and layered. I elected not to do that, but to dice the potatoes small, steam them until soft but not breaking up, and then sauté them with the onions in the frying pan. I then crushed them a bit with a spatula so that they’d meld with everything else in the omelette.
I do use pepper in it, and I wouldn’t dream of not using onion. And, of course, as with many traditional recipes, there’s scope for variations (this recipe of mine, adding cheese, being one of them).
You can add all manner of things, from leeks or asparagus to peppers, chorizo and – why not? – bacon. Herbs could be added too. You can even serve a spicy tomato salsa on the side.
But we’re keeping things fairly basic here. This one is worth storing up for the weekend.
(Serves 4 to 6)
8 jumbo eggs
1 large white onion, finely chopped
2 large or 3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
Olive oil, as needed
100 g Cheddar cheese, grated
Black or white pepper (optional)
Peel the potatoes and dice them small. I sliced the large potatoes I was using in half lengthwise, then each half three times across. So one potato made 16 dice, eight per each half.
Steam them until soft but not falling apart. Alternatively, boil them. Either way, they then need to be drained and left alone for the hot steam to evaporate while they’re cooling.
Preheat the oven to 200℃.
Heat some olive oil (a modest quantity, not more than about 2 Tbsp) in a heavy pan and sauté the onion until softened. Add the cooled potato and cook, stirring a little and tossing them this way and that carefully, until everything is coated and amalgamated.
Salt lightly, all over, and stir again. Add pepper too at this point, if using.
In a bowl, whisk the eggs and add a little salt and black or white pepper. Grate the cheese and stir it into the beaten eggs.
Pour the egg mixture into the pan and move it all around with a flat-edged wooden or silicone spoon/spatula. Let it cook on a low heat until the egg is set until about half way through.
Pop the pan into the oven to bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Use your eye to assess when it is cooked at the middle point of the omelette.
Serve in wedges. (With bacon on the side if your household is anything like mine.) DM
Tony Jackman is Galliova Food Writer 2023, jointly with TGIFood columnist Anna Trapido.
Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks.