After wrangling winter squash for several hours last weekend, I got to finish my workout by cooling down in the greenhouse trimming onions. Meanwhile, some Spaniards were passing through on a visit. I pounced on them as soon as I heard their accent.
They turned out to be from Madrid by way of Galicia, the lush, green province in the northwest corner of Spain. We got to chatting as I had traveled through that area in college years ago, visiting Santiago de Compostela, La Coruña, and Pontevedra. The latter had a really beautiful plaza and we were lucky to catch it with all the roses in perfect bloom. At least I think they were roses. Do roses grow on trees?
Anyway, botany aside, it’s one of my most vivid memories of my time abroad.
I won’t lie—I made off with a couple of onions from the greenhouse. I couldn’t help myself—the Spanish tortilla that was coming together in my mind was all but made, save the onions I was out of. And wouldn’t you know it, two onions just happened to roll right off the table and straight into my bag on the floor below. On the third try. I smiled as I thought of my evening plans, which involved flipping through my photo albums and shedding salty tears of nostalgia while frying golden slices of potato and stolen onions.
Just add it to the tab I’ll have to work off for the Farmer somehow.
It’s like a really dense frittata with potatoes and onions. Iberian comfort food. Chorizo never hurts, but we can’t always be so lucky.
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, preferably Spanish, plus 1 Tbsp.
6 small potatoes, peeled, sliced ¼-inch thick (or 3 medium)
2 small onions, sliced thinly
1 tsp. salt
Black pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions and potato slices, stirring often to separate them and seasoning with half of the salt and pepper. Cook until potatoes are tender and starting to brown, 20-25 minutes.
In the meantime, whisk the eggs and remaining salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add cooked potato mixture and blend well, separating any potatoes that are stuck together. Heat remaining 1 Tbsp. oil in pan. Add egg mixture, spreading evenly, and turn heat to medium-low. Cover and cook until middle is almost set, careful not to let the bottom burn. This can take about 15 minutes depending on your burner.
Now, you can either set it under the broiler to finish off the top, or you can do what Spanish home cooks do, which is the following. First, loosen the bottom with a spatula. Then invert a plate over the top of the frying pan and flip the whole thing so that the tortilla is now upside-down on the plate. Wearing oven mitts is a good idea because sometimes there’s some hot oil bouncing around. Return the pan to the heat and slide the tortilla back into the pan to cook the bottom, another 5-10 minutes. Loosen with a spatula and slide onto a serving plate. Can be served warm, room temperature, or cold.
Note: If you do opt for chorizo, I like to cube it and sauté it first so you can use the rendered fat as part of your cooking oil, which infuses the whole thing with spicy deliciousness. But that’s just me.
And while we’re on the theme, here are some of my other favorite Spanish recipes: