Recipe: Frittata with Potatoes, Cheese, Leek & Sage
Please, please send me on a holiday to Barcelona!
(Oh my, am I shamelessly advertising! Yes! I really would love to go back to Barcelona…)
And now to cooking. I often find that tortilla Espagnola—the Spanish deep omelette with sliced potatoes and onion—can be rather dry and bland, but the Spanish version is often acting as a counterpoint to far spicier tapas dishes, so fair enough really. Italian-inspired frittata tend to have more ingredients—incorporating leftovers and whatever is in season and available, any old thing can go in there, from artichoke to zucchini. Another difference between the two is in the cooking method: a tortilla is usually flipped over using a plate or lid half way through, whereas a frittata is generally finished under the grill. But, no hard and fast rules in Spain or Italy–almost every human culture breaks eggs to make omelettes.
This version of a sliced potato omelette (I’m calling it my tortatta) is not bland at all, and it majorly ticks my boxes in that it has few, simple ingredients in quantities that I would usually have to hand and it is an easy dish to make. The recipe is an adaptation from a BBC Good Food Magazine original, where I was surprised to see several comments on it being not very tasty, but if you use good quality ingredients (leeks in summer= tasteless rubbish) and your dried sage has not been hanging around in a cupboard for two years, I really can’t see where those comments came from. Dried sage is, of course, the worst herb for losing its pungency over time and turning into acrid green-brown dust so perhaps that is the reason for those remarks.
This amount would serve four as a lunch with a big salad and nice bread, or two to four as a warm winter supper with some extra bits of tapas e.g. Tomato & Mozzarella Salad, Calamaris, etc. It takes around half an hour all in to make and could be a good lunch box/picnic dish. You could of course add other ingredients as you fancy, but why bother when this dish is so nice?
- 250g-275g Potatoes (this is a surprisingly small amount of potatoes, about four smallish or two medium sized ones and they need to be pre-cooked.)
- 1 medium-sized Leek—I would substitute spring onions or fresh white onions in the summer months.
- 6 medium Eggs, or 4 large Eggs
- Large knob of Butter
- 80g good, mature hard Cheese such as a strong, vintage Cheddar
- Large Pinch of Dried Sage, rubbed in your palm before adding to release the oils, or use 3-4 leaves of fresh sage, very finely chopped.
- Salt and Pepper to taste—you may not need much salt depending on the cheese used.
Peel and boil the potatoes and be careful not to overcook them, they need to be in decent shape to slice down without crumbling or going to mush. As they are cooking, slice the leek as thinly as you can, I used a mandolin. Over a low heat on the hob and in a reasonably deep non-stick skillet/frying pan gently soften the leek in butter until it melts down but is not browning, this can take up to 10 minutes depending on how thickly sliced. My skillet is 10” or 26cm diameter and it is probably on the outside size of making this whole dish work with these quantities. Cool the potatoes once cooked, then slice down—certainly not more than half a centimetre thickness. The original recipe states to place potatoes over leeks, but I prefer to do it the other way around, as the potato layer at the bottom gives it more of a base for cutting and serving. Beat the eggs, add the cheese, sage and seasoning and make sure the egg is settling evenly round the pan and moving around and under the leek and potatoes to encase everything. Gently cook the mixture on the hob over a low heat until the eggs set—should take just a few minutes. I tend to annoy it a little by moving a flexible spatula around the edges and under the frittata just to loosen things off and check the base is not browning too much (aka burning), but I think my skillet is not so non-stick as it once was. To finish, place the entire skillet under a medium hot grill to set the frittata top for a couple of minutes or so but too long under the grill equals rubber omelette. The frittata/tortatta can be served hot or at room temp, it slices better when cooled, but I prefer eating it warm.