Fifth in a string of posts about cheap eating in which I feed a pair of adults (one of which is me) a selection of meals that taste good, on a budget of around £2 each per day.
About five years ago, after a breakup, I moved into a house where, by coincidence, everyone else was also a recent heartbreaker or heartbreakee. Unsurprisingly, most residents were more interested in alcohol than food, so the kitchen was not that well kitted out – which eventually drove me to buy a pan.
I made it a large heavy sauté pan with a lid – if you have one of these you can pretty much make do with just a single other thin shitty saucepan to cook rice, pasta or boiled veg in. Since then most of the types of food I make have been prepared in it at one time or another: pasta sauces, curries, risottos, some of the rice-based pulse dishes I mentioned yesterday. But the thing it’s best for is making the kind of inches-thick omelettes you can live off for several days.
Some call these by their Spanish name: tortilla, others say frittata (the Italian version, which can involve a messy additional stage of whisking ingredients into your beaten eggs). Whatever – they are one of the best of all foods for using up bits and enjoying hot one day, cold the next, and should set you back no more than £1 per portion.
If you like spices, the Indian masala omelette is also a thing of beauty that you can adapt how you want and, should you somehow get tired of all these, a wide pan is also ideal for other simple egg dishes such as the Tunisian chakchouka.
Tortilla (2-4 portions)
You will need:
- 4tbsp oil (at least)
- 6 eggs
- 3-4 new potatoes, chopped
- 2 onions or leeks, thinly sliced
- Salt & pepper
Plus a couple of things from this list, if you have them:
- 2-4 rashers bacon, snipped into matchsticks
- 50g or more salami, chorizo or similar, chopped
- A slice or two of ham, chopped fine
- 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1/2-1 cup of frozen peas or broad beans
- 1 small courgette, cut in half lengthways then thinly sliced
- Handful of grated cheese
- Or whatever else you fancy – so long as it’s not tomatoes. Their juice is likely to rob your tortilla of the caramelised underside that is one of its best features.
- Heat the oil over a low heat and fry the onions very gently for 15-20mins. They should be soft and sweet but not brown.
- Meanwhile boil some water and give the potatoes 5-10mins until almost cooked.
- Beat the eggs with salt and pepper.
- When the onions are done, start adding secondary ingredients. Turn up the heat to medium and fry meat, garlic or fresh veg for 2-3mins; if using frozen you can just defrost it under boiling water and add to the pan.
- Add the cooked potatoes, continue cooking a minute or two longer and mix well so everything is evenly spread.
- Pour in the beaten eggs, shaking the pan a little to evenly distribute, and set over a medium-low heat.
- Sprinkle cheese, if using, onto the top of the still-liquid omelette – it’ll settle near the surface – and get your grill preheating.
- Cook for 10-15mins or until just a shallow puddle of liquid remains on top of the tortilla, then grill until golden and puffed-up on top.
- Slice like a pizza and serve with bread and, if you have any, some salad.